By Emma Castleberry
The House of Neighborly Service (HNS) was founded by the Loveland Council of Churches in 1961. Celebrating their 55th anniversary this year, HNS continues to uphold a mission to assist and advocate for people challenged by the effects of poverty. This broad mission means they serve a variety of different people, including people with a fixed income like seniors and people with disabilities, people facing homelessness, and families affected by situational crisis like flood or fire.
When someone approaches the HNS in search of services, they have an initial meeting with a caseworker. Clients must provide proof of income and residency, as well as identification for everyone in their family in the form of a birth certificate, social security card, or ID card. Sarah Morales, Director of Development at the HNS, says clients often discover the organization can help with more than they realized.
“The case worker talks to them to determine their need,” she says. “If a client is just coming in for food, they might realize we have a clothing boutique and they can get clothes, or use our birthday closet for gifts for kids under 18. We can even help with utilities.”
The HNS operates 20 different assistance programs. One form of assistance is their food baskets, which provide individuals with a week’s worth of groceries according to family size. HNS distributed over 4700 food baskets last year, amounting to almost 330,000 pounds of food. They also offer a clothing boutique that also sells small household items like dishes, pots, pans, and bedding. Families can shop in the boutique for a flat fee of $2 per family member. HNS can also provide assistance with utilities, prescriptions, and transportation costs.
The HNS also operates two homeless programs: an adult program called 137 Homeless Connection and a children’s program called Angel House. Both programs are not emergency shelters, and the HNS screens the city of Loveland for potential program members. Over 800 families were taken in by the HNS homeless programs in 2015.
The 137 Homeless Shelter offers showers, laundry, storage, mail, phone and computer services at its Day Center. Clients of the shelter can access mental health assessments and substance abuse counseling on a case by case basis. Individuals at the 137 Homeless Shelter can also participate in the New Life Program, designed to empower people to find a way out of homelessness with a series of trainings.
At Angel House, families are provided with an environment conducive to finding employment, reducing debt, and maintaining stability for children. Angel House has a playroom, nap room, and childcare and school bus pickups to allow parents to focus entirely on the process of escaping homelessness.
Two years ago, the HNS moved into a new building called the Life Center. The center is owned and operated by the HNS, but houses 18 other nonprofits in addition to the HNS offices. This makes it much easier for HNS to ensure the long-term success of their clients by referring them to other services.
“If a client needs help with the rent, we’ll send them up to Neighbor to Neighbor, right upstairs,” says Morales. “Let’s say they need help with finding a job. We can send them to Goodwill Career Center here in the Life Center. We refer the clients to the different nonprofits here. That really helps them save on gas so they don’t have to drive all over Loveland looking for services. It’s all under one roof.”
Some of the other organizations in the Life Center include St. Matthews Medical Clinic, Worklife Partnership, the Center for Adult Learning, and Birthline of Loveland.
The HNS uses what they call a “hands up” approach, as opposed to a “hand out” approach. This means there are ongoing requirements for any recipient of services at the HNS. Once a client starts receiving services, they are required to take a financial literacy course within two years to continue receiving those services. The class teaches clients about money management and “how to better stretch their dollar,” says Morales. In 2015, over 160 adults graduated from the financial literacy course offered by the HNS. Additionally, every client undergoes an evaluation and update every six months to ensure their progress.
“We don’t just give them things without them having to move forward,” Morales says. “We want them to want to better themselves. By giving referrals and having them take classes, they are able to have a hand up, versus a hand out, and become self reliant.”
Currently, the HONS is taking donations of socks and underwear in K-12 student sizes for their Back to School Bash. The event takes place on August 11th from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Life Center on 1511 E 11th St. Anyone can attend the event and receive a bundle of socks and underwear for the students in their home; you don’t have to be a client of the HONS. There will be hot dogs for sale, a fire truck, and a DJ in attendance. The HONS will be taking donations until a few days before the event.
Published in Loveland Magazine on August 3, 2016.