OCT BUSINESS: House of Hope
More than 2,000 years ago, the Roman statesman Cicero said, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Today in Oklahoma, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation offers a living, breathing testament to the ancient words. Through its House of Hope program, it offers refuge and services—and most important of all, hope—to those fleeing domestic violence.
Based in Shawnee and funded by federal grants, the program began in 1998. House of Hope provides services to men and women escaping family violence in Oklahoma, Cleveland and Pottawatomie Counties. It is open to all within its service area, Native and non-Native alike, regardless of race, age, gender or other socioeconomic factors.
“We have a multitude of services to offer, from transportation and secondary school assistance, to rent, utilities and even relocation,” said program coordinator Tiffany Barrett.
Barrett and her staff of five are on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for crisis situations. If those escaping abuse need to leave the area, House of Hope provides bus tickets or gas money if the individual has his or her own vehicle. The program offers counseling services, and makes referrals to other providers if needed.
One of the program’s primary goals is to help clients achieve independence. “They have been dependent on an abuser,” said Amanda Chapman, coordinator of the domestic violence prevention initiative. “Not because they wanted to be, but because they were forced to be. We give them the tools to be independent, and it’s up to them to use those tools.”
As part of the prevention effort, Chapman presents “Love is Respect” programs in area schools, teaching teenagers about healthy relationships. House of Hope has also designed and created a limited edition Pendleton blanket, featuring traditional Potawatomi designs. Sales of the exclusive blanket raise awareness and funds for the program.
House of Hope deals daily with difficult situations. Yet the rewards for those who staff the program are quite tangible. “The first day a client comes in, they may not even look you in the eye,” said Chapman. “But the last day, you see they are going to spread their wings and fly. They are confident. They hold their head up. They have hope.”
For more information about House of Hope, or to purchase a special Domestic Violence Blanket, call 275-3176 or visit www.potawatomi.org.