On April 4th, we had a delightful event at Hope & A Future. The event itself was actually a common one for us, the unique sweetness had to do with the people present. If you have been following Hope & A Future’s development, you may already know that we exist for two reasons. One, is that I had a vision for a staffed neighborhood setting that I could not stop thinking about. The other equally important reason is the goodwill and support of the many wonderful people who have given of their time, talents and resources to move this project forward. The April 4th event brought together more of those people than we have ever had in one room at one time before--and the love in the room was nearly palpable!
While we have a pot-luck and house concert the second Friday of every month, this mid-week party was out of the ordinary. It was planned because of two very special visitors. Brenda Krause Eheart of Champaign Illinois and Deb Fink of Spokane Washington. Brenda is the founder of Hope Meadows, a staffed neighborhood she started in 1994--with the goal of providing permanent homes for children stuck in the foster system. Brenda was able to purchase out of use family housing built on an Air Force base, from the Pentagon! Families willing to adopt three to four children received housing, the support of each other, the neighborhood staff psychologist and Brenda. Seniors were offered low cost housing in exchange for volunteering at the afterschool program and taking on the role of grandparents. Hope Meadows nurtured community minded children that learned to their potential. The model also gave seniors purpose, belonging and improved health! Deb Finck is the Executive Director of Building Ohana—she is working to develop an inclusive intergenerational community for persons with autism and developmental disabilities. These two people came to see what we are working on and to experience the Hope & A Future culture. I felt the best way to introduce who we are is to have one of our signature parties. The party was mid-week and invitations were extended to our Family of Friends! Residents, families of current and former residents, pro bono professionals, volunteers, donors and our board of directors. Many could not make it, but many came! April 4th also happened to be my husband’s 60th birthday! At the party, with so many wonderful guests, we were overwhelmed by the fact that we have a wonderful life!
Someday I will take the time to write the full journey of developing Hope & A Future, because it is encouraging and heart-warming! The story is filled with meeting wonderful people with skills, resources and a willingness to help bring what many considered to be an impossible project to fruition! Most of these people have not met each other because they came along at different times in our 15-year history! Their backgrounds, belief systems and skills are varied. With more time and current contact information we could have invited even more people! Brenda and Deb looked forward to their visit with us, but what they experienced exceeded their expectations. I am always anxious to get first time visitors to tell me what it is that surprises them. I was especially interested to hear feedback from Deb and Brenda, because they are among the handful of people in our country working on staffed neighborhoods. They know the value of community and committed relationships. Yet both felt they had experienced something truly unique here—and again, it was hard for our guests to put their experience into words.
The next morning, as we sat around our kitchen table with morning coffee and sunshine pouring in—both Deb and Brenda searched for words to explain what they had experienced. Deb said she woke up at 3AM wondering if part of what makes Hope & A Future so special is that there is a real family at the center of the work. Brenda and Deb both noted that a safe loving family is the building block of a healthy society. It is true that the idea for an intergenerational adult family home started in our home. As I am writing this, I am thinking it may have started without our awareness! A woman who has long since become one of our best friends shared our home for a time, when our first daughter was only a year old and she was a young adult. Later, she re-joined our home as a single parent, newly released from the hospital with her infant son. Although we now reside in different states and she has been married for close to a couple of decades, the love and relationship we share remains extremely important and we visit often. Our family of friends expanded when we decided to move a senior who was a private duty client of mine into our home in 2001—after the death of her husband. Once we started caring for seniors in our home, we never stopped. In 2003 work began in earnest on the Hope & A Future Business Plan. The plan is to develop a Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood or TIIN. It was written by me and my friend Paula Reif, who specializes in family life education. We worked under the direction of a counselor from the WI Small Business Administration. In 2012, 9 years later and with the support and encouragement of many Rick and I moved from our private home to Hope & A Future’s non-profit property. Our adult children and the Krause Family Band remain active participants in the life and culture of Hope & A Future. So perhaps a strong family that enjoys bringing others into their extended family of friends is a piece of what people experience when they join the Hope & A Future Family of Friends. Perhaps people also feel the history of love and encouragement from every donor and pro bono professional that has helped! Maybe all of that combined with God’s smile on this beautiful farmstead is Hope & A Future’s unique DNA! You will have to visit to decide!
Get new blog posts, events, and updates from Hope & A Future each month!
Written by members of the Hope & a Future community including residents, volunteers, and staff.