Hope House holds graduation, ‘Kickoff to Summer Bash’

Nonprofit hosted a graduation ceremony and summer kickoff event

Ryan Dunn
rdunn@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 6/10/21

With the easing of local and statewide COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks, Arvada-based nonprofit Hope House — which provides resources for teen moms — returned to hosting in-person events to …

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Hope House holds graduation, ‘Kickoff to Summer Bash’

Nonprofit hosted a graduation ceremony and summer kickoff event

Posted

With the easing of local and statewide COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks, Arvada-based nonprofit Hope House — which provides resources for teen moms — returned to hosting in-person events to engage their community. A graduation ceremony was held on May 27 at Trinity Church and a ‘Kickoff to Summer Bash’ was held on June 3 at Lake Arbor Park.

Graduation

On May 27, Hope House honored 13 teen moms who earned their high school or GED diplomas at a ceremony at Trinity Church.

Hope House’s High School and GED program allows teen moms to pursue their education through whichever program works best for them, including GED prep, HiSET prep and Penn Foster, a self-paced online high school diploma option. Hope House provides volunteer tutors that help teen moms work towards their GED or diploma.

Nationally, less than 50% of teen moms graduate from high school. 80% of teen moms in Hope House’s High School & GED Program receive their diploma or GED. The nonprofit has been operating its High School & GED Program since 2007 and typically has three graduation ceremonies per year.

Monica, a teen mom who is a member of the most recent Hope House graduating class, said the nonprofit helped her overcome a number of challenges to eventually receive her GED.

“Back in 2013 I started my GED,” said Monica. “There were a lot of obstacles that Hope House helped me overcome, like childcare and transportation. I ended up having to take a few years off from school, and when I came back in 2020, I enrolled in the online diploma option.

“It was a better fit for me because it worked better with my schedule,” Monica continued, “and I was able to finish in just a few months. I’m so grateful to have all of the support from Hope House. It feels so good to be done and to have accomplished one of my big goals. Now I can work on my next goal; college!”

Hope House Founder and Executive Director Lisa Steven said the organization tries to make their ceremony mirror a traditional high school graduation.

“(The moms) are so grateful for a traditional ceremony,” said Steven. “Not just them, but their families as well. Having the opportunity to celebrate success is huge — girls have started crying when they’ve seen mural of teen moms in caps and gowns because they thought it was something that had been lost to them, and when they see that it’s like they can actually graduate.

“We do the whole ‘Pomp and Circumstance,’ walking down the aisle, moving the tassel,” Steven continued. “The stage mirrors a high school graduation. someone from our board addresses them, the program director addresses them and there’s also an address by their teacher.”

Steven added that Hope House’s volunteer tutors help the teen moms a great deal in working towards their diploma or GED.

“A huge, huge impact is made by our volunteer tutors,” said Steven. “Every one of our moms is working at her own pace with an individualized learning plan developed with (Program Director) Hillary Donovan, then they have volunteer tutors that sit next to them or over Zoom and help them with their lessons.

“I’ve personally seen a mom light up and completely change their demeanor when a tutor says, ‘you’ve got this, you can do it,’” Steven continued. “It’s like they’ve never been told that before. I’ve had moms tell me teachers told them they’re stupid, and when they get that positive support it’s a complete game changer.”

Steven finished by saying that getting a GED or diploma is a big step in becoming financially independent for teen moms.

“Getting your GED or diploma is truly the first step towards economic self-sufficiency,” said Steven. “Whether the next step is continuing school or starting a career, you need the first step. The girls are getting such a huge boost of confidence, and I get the best seat of the house when they’re glowing with pride for making it to that point.”

‘Kickoff to Summer Bash’

Hope House also hosted a ‘Kickoff to Summer Bash’ on June 3 at Lake Arbor Park. The event featured lawn games and food provided by Chick-Fil-A and Kona Ice and was attended by roughly 120 teen moms and their families.

The event was sponsored by the Arvada Economic Development Association, which provided funding for food, décor and yard games, as well as prize giveaways.

“With the current challenges we face in this economy, Hope House is a vital asset in supporting teen moms to develop more self-sufficiency,” said AEDA Executive Director Daniel Ryley. “The AEDA board and staff believe that Hope House’s mission aligns with our focus in developing a thriving, sustainable business environment.”

Hope House Family Advocate Kendra Crispin said the event was designed to allow the organization’s moms and staff to reconnect interpersonally after a year of social distancing.

“This concept started from the idea that 2020 was the worst year ever,” said Crispin. “A lot of our moms were not able to come in during COVID and we didn’t have a lot of opportunities for community building like we normally do. So, this was to build community for our moms, let them know that we are still there for them and love them and want to give them a fun place to hang out and with each other and the staff and re-engage a bit.”

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