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Lexis Hernandez gave birth to her son at a young age. She was living with her parents at the time, but knew she had to start thinking about her future.That’s when she found Hope House. In the three years she has been connected to the nonprofit which helps teen moms become self-sufficient, Hernandez, 21, has taken parenting and life-skills classes. And last July, she walked in the Hope House GED graduation.“It was amazing,” the young mom said of getting her GED. “In high school, I never thought I would graduate or get anything. Getting my GED was a really accomplishing feeling. I’m really thankful for Hope House.”Hernandez was one of 165 teen moms in the metro Denver area served by Hope House last year.Hope House of Colorado is metro-Denver’s only resource providing free self-sufficiency programs to teen moms, including residential, GED and college and career support services. Additional supportive services include parenting and life skills classes, healthy relationship classes, financial literacy workshops and certified counseling, all designed to prepare them for long-term independence.The organization outgrew its resource center space in Westminster and is at capacity at its current rental space in Arvada. But thanks to community support and a partnership with HomeAid Colorado and Meritage Homes, Hope House broke ground on a new 15,000 square foot resource center in Arvada Jan. 28.The new center is expected to triple the number of teen moms and children that can be assisted each year.”We are thrilled to break ground on our new Resource Center in Arvada, which will allow us to significantly expand the number of teen moms we empower every year,” said Lisa Steven, founder and executive director of Hope House.Hope House launched a capital campaign two years ago to raise the funds to build the center. The campaign gained momentum through a partnership with HomeAid Colorado, a nonprofit provider of housing and services for Coloradans experiencing homelessness. Over the past two years, Hope House raised $2.8 millions for the project.But with rising building costs, it was not enough.“We struggled and were worried we weren’t going to get it done,” Steven said.Until Hope House was selected as HomeAid’s 2017 beneficiary.Then, Meritage Homes volunteered to manage the construction of the facility and assisting in securing trade partners to provide in-kind labor, materials and services.Hope House met with Meritage on Jan. 11 and Stevens said she was shocked to find out that Meritage would build the resource center for the amount of money that had been raised.“I was shocked,” Steven said. “They (filled) a $1 million gap.”HomeAid Colorado acts as the philanthropic arm of the Home Builders Association and has been partnering with agencies helping those most in need for 17 years.“We are excited for the opportunity to bring together an agency with the heart, passion and experience to help teen mothers and their babies reach self-sufficiency with a skilled and generous home builder,” said Laura Brayman, executive director of HomeAid Colorado. “We consistently witness that much more can be achieved with great collaborations.”The new resource center is just Phase 1 of the project. An early learning center will be built during Phase 2 to provide quality childcare and early learning lessons to the children of the teen moms who are in class at Hope House.“This project would not have been possible without our amazing community as well as HomeAid Colorado and Meritage Homes,” Steven said. “Their investment will change the future of teen moms and children from across the Denver-metro area for generations to come.”Rusty Crandall, division president of Meritage Homes, said he hopes to start land development for the site this spring with building beginning in April. The goal, he said, is to have the resource center done by the end of the year.“We at Meritage believe we have to give back to the community,” Crandall said at the groundbreaking. “We’re extremely honored to be part of this project.”Teen mom Hernandez is excited for many more girls to have opportunities at Hope House. She is now exploring her college and career options. After a Hope House sponsored trip to Kaiser University, Hernandez became interested in phlebotomy, sinceit only requires a month-long certification.“I hope to start the certification program in March,” she said. “I’m really excited.”
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