Seventeen years ago, House of Hope was founded in Cedar Rapids as a transitional housing facility for women in crisis. Realizing the women being served needed support and educational opportunities in order to make lasting improvements in their lives, the faith-based organization quickly added classes and other services to meet that need.
“We equip, encourage and empower through therapy, housing, classes and community groups,” said Courtney Misener, House of Hope’s director of programs and engagement.
Many of its classes and programs are open to the public, to both individuals and corporate groups.
At a recent Professional Women’s Network event, Misener gave a speech called “Avoiding the Hot Mess” which discussed the exhaustion that comes from chasing perfectionism.
“I talked about living for the approval of others and not being able to say no, which is a boundary-setting issue.”
Misener said healthy communication skills, including how to set boundaries, can help each of us be happier and more productive at home and at work.
For women staying at House of Hope, Misener and the rest of the staff customize classes to fit their specific needs. That can involve bringing in financial advisors, nutritionists and other specialists. House of Hope also has one full-time and two part-time therapists and is currently looking to add another due to high demand. Misener says staff tries to get to the root of what might be “tripping someone up,” rather than just giving generic advice. “We try to help them process through what’s been plaguing them.”
Misener can relate to what they’re going through more than most. A few years ago, she was one of the women staying at House of Hope.
“If you want to know the type of woman who comes here, it’s me,” she said. “A pastor’s wife who was completely collapsing into postpartum depression.” When Misener and her husband arrived at House of Hope seeking marriage counseling, staff quickly realized that Misener needed more in-depth help to overcome the crisis she was facing, which had left her feeling hopeless and her marriage falling apart. Nearly four years later, Misener is thriving, and happily, her marriage survived. Now, she spends her days teaching and supporting women in all kinds of crises — some similar to her own, and some completely different. “I’m just one of 400 or 500 stories,” she said.
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House of Hope serves anyone who comes through their doors. “Race, gender, sexual orientation — it all comes secondary,” Misener said. Of course, the small organization can’t meet every need, so they partner with non-profits in the area to provide resources for those that might be better served elsewhere, such as someone who is in the beginning stages of recovery from addiction. Misener said it’s rewarding to watch women start to free themselves from things that have been getting in the way of living full, healthy lives. Whether someone needs help getting through a crisis or help setting boundaries, House of Hope gives people tools to help them succeed.
“We don’t save or fix anyone — we give them the resources to do the work because that’s when it sticks.”