By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT – What started with one four-plex serving four families in 1990 has grown to 16 housing sites serving 47 families striving to achieve self-sufficiency.
Because of that growth, Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. (HMHI) needed more space to house offices, a food pantry, donation center and storage area, said Sister Mary Ann Vogel, CHM, finance director for HMHI. On Nov. 3, HMHI held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new facility located at 3805 Mississippi Ave. The approximately 19,000-square-foot facility now houses offices for both HMHI and Humility of Mary Shelter Inc. Both entities are ministries of the Congregation of the Humility of Mary.
“We are now under one roof and all on one floor,” Sr. Vogel said.
HMHI assists single-parent families to get back on their feet after being homeless mainly because of divorce, abuse, mental health issues or job loss.
“They come to us for housing. But they must accept the program and structure we have. They must work, get job training or go to school,” Sr. Vogel said.
“We see changes as the families stay with us. They know they have a home and food. Their basic needs are being met. And it filters down to the children. They come here very angry, but that dissipates or lessens over time.”
Sr. Vogel said the purpose of HMHI is to help the families become self-sufficient. Some families stay only a few months. The average stay has been 17 months, she said. Generally, the maximum time limit is two years. “If they are in the middle of their education we can let them stay a little longer.”
Back in 1990 “when we started we had four young mothers with four babes,” Sr. Vogel said. An executive director and one staff member operated the program.
Within a month after it started, HMHI learned of a need to help women coming out of recovery from substance abuse. Today, to meet this need, HMHI has seven apartments for clients and one for a site manager. As time went along, HMHI identified another need: assistance for single-parent families dealing with mental health issues and/or head injuries. “We worked with Vera French (Community Mental Health Center).” Four apartments are dedicated for this clientele and one for a site manager.
Altogether, HMHI has 16 different buildings that serve 47 families in Davenport today. Those 47 families have about 100 children being helped through this program, Sr. Vogel said.
In addition to housing, HMHI offers a food pantry and a donation room with items such as clothing, house wares, sheets and towels for its clients.
HMHI is supported through HUD grants, federal funding, United Way, private donations and individuals.
Even with grant money and help from private foundations, a gap of nearly $350,000 exists each year. Money generated through donations and fundraising events helps fill the gap. “One-third of our budget is from private donations,” Sr. Vogel stated.
HMHI’s largest fundraising event is the Fresh Start benefit sale. Items are sold to benefit HMHI on an annual basis. “I’m not sure if we’ll expand to two or three times a year, but we will continue with this fundraiser.”
Two years ago HMHI added a jazz brunch fundraiser. The next one will be held Sept. 23, 2012, at Crow Valley Golf Club in Davenport.
Throughout the year an active development committee pursues ideas and hosts many meet-and-greet events to inform people about the organization.
“The Quad-City community is a very caring community. We wouldn’t continue if it wasn’t such a great donor base,” Sr. Vogel said. “Our strong partnership with churches tithing to our organization is wonderful too.”
History behind new building
In January 2011 Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. Board of Directors decided to look for a larger site to accommodate the office staff, food pantry, donation center, sorting area and storage space. The site also needed to accommodate Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc., administration and staff. A site was found on Mississippi Avenue in Davenport.
At the same time, Progressive Baptist Church in Davenport indicated interest in HMHI’s nearby offices on College Avenue. Proceeds from the sale of that property would be used to help with remodeling of the new offices while a fundraising campaign was necessary to help HMHI with the $550,000 purchase of the new site. Sister Mary Ann Vogel, CHM, said a supporter who wishes to remain anonymous offered a gift of property appraised at $250,000. That building could be sold or leased as HMHI wishes. HMHI is in negotiations on whether to sell or lease. Other gifts include a $40,000 donation and a $25,000 challenge gift.
Additional funding came from a low-interest loan from the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport. Interest payments are made monthly and principal payments twice a year.
On Aug. 1, HMHI purchased the Mississippi Avenue site and began remodeling. Staff moved in Oct. 1.