Why does Acres of Hope exist?
Acres of Hope was designed to address the high rates of recidivism among the homeless population. The fastest segment of the homeless population is women with children. Cycling from one program to another, these women are trying to manage the effects of lifelong wounds along with parenting and supporting their children financially – often with minimal coping skills.
How does Acres of Hope address recidivism?
The elements that the Acres of Hope program is built upon are as follows:
Valuing the importance of relationships – We believe we are created by God as unique people that He adores and are made for relationship. Relationships are the cause of most destructive behaviors most often caused by wounding at a young age. Each negative experience imprints negative messages in the brain that establish and strengthen faulty belief systems that drive negative behaviors. Beginning a process of establishing healthy relationships is key to the healing of these wounds and establishing true belief systems that drive healthy coping skills.
Applying new life and coping skills – We begin with a family model over a program. We establish a safe environment where trust can be restored. With permission to speak into the lives of each resident, we begin teaching principles and life skills that will be necessary to face all obstacles in their past, present and future. We challenge faulty belief systems that entangle the lives of our families. Beyond gathering information, we expect residents to evidence growth through changed behaviors as they respond to the world around them.
Practicing forgiveness of self and others – Healing begins by removing shame and guilt. This does not remove the importance of accountability. Removing shame and guilt occurs when a person acknowledges their sin and can accept the free gift of grace that covers the penalty of sin. Grace is then expected to extend to those who have sinned against us, not for their sake but for our own, not for the offenders benefit but for the victim. Forgiveness frees a person and allows the healing process to go deeper.
Establishing healthy support systems – Destructive behaviors cannot occur without isolation from healthy people. We begin by matching our residents with women volunteers who commit to mentoring for a minimum of one year. Residents are required to extend this new support network for graduation by allowing safe people to speak into their lives.
Accomplishing goals – People without vision perish. We believe that God created us with unique gifts and passions. We believe that when we identify and live out those gifts that vision becomes a powerful tool to continue in the journey of healing. We teach practical skills of planning a life that is God-directed rather than self-directed.
What issues do the classes at Acres of Hope address?
Acres of Hope addresses issues that led to homelessness. We believe that many behaviors are only a symptom of deeper issues such as fear, shame, neglect, abuse, or other emotional wounds.
Classes address addictions in 37 areas with an understanding that removing one addiction without addressing the cause will only lead to substituting another addiction. All addictions are coping behaviors.
Classes address parenting skills including boundaries, discipline, and 40 developmental assets. Practical principles are taught and expected to be applied for course completion. Mothers consider the effects their lifestyle have had upon their children and what steps they can take to bring healing to the child(ren).
Classes address domestic violence, boundaries and general relationship skills. Conflict resolution along with identifying and getting needs met in a healthy way are the central focus. In addition, understanding self worth and establishing value statements helps mothers begin the healing process.
Classes address faulty belief systems that drive residents’ destructive behaviors.
How does someone get into the Acres of Hope program?
Acres of Hope takes applications on a referral basis only. If the applicant has no referral, odds are she has cut off all support systems and has shown little or no effort towards recovery. If an applicant does not have a referral, we recommend that she obtain support through a social worker, or enter a local rehabilitation facility to begin her steps. Those types of services can provide for immediate needs while the individual works towards making changes.
Who can make a referral into Acres of Hope?
Anyone can refer into the Acres of Hope program. Most referrals come from County Social Services staff, other programs that a resident might be graduating from but cannot offer continued services, or a church or family member. Most referrals come from other agencies, county employees and churches/individuals.
Who is a good candidate for the Acres of Hope program?
Homeless women with children ages 0-12 qualify. Applicants must be drug/alcohol free for two months prior to entry as we are not a rehabilitation facility. Applicants must be ready to address the underlying issues that led to their homelessness which means looking at emotional history and facing hidden fears, losses and memories.
What is expected from a family entering the Acres of Hope program?
Families will live onsite during their entire stay. Each family is given a private room and bath while living within a community environment that allows staff to observe behaviors and issues that arise. Families are responsible to participate in chores and other activities for maintenance of the facility. Families will be responsible for budgeting income, planning for their future, and being accountable to various support systems throughout their stay. Mothers will prepare written proposals for graduation to each level within the program with advancement being evidenced by changed behaviors.
Level 1: Families will complete a 90-day orientation and develop an Individual Family Plan (IFP) that will identify goals in 25 measurable areas from which the program will be carried out. Residents are required to attend classes during this phase and complete other requirements geared toward her recovery process.
Level 2: Families will then enter into the program that begins with classes that address heart issues, parenting skills, recovery issues, relationships, boundaries and much more. Children attend local public schools and moms are expected to participate in her child(ren)’s education experience. Toddlers and pre-school children attend onsite classes designed to address the special needs of each child. A minimum of 16 classes are identified and required for graduation of this level with a minimum of six months in each class. Certificates of completion are not given for completing classes but rather when behaviors have changed and goals accomplished.
Level 3: Mothers address education and job readiness issues such as obtaining a GED if a high-school diploma is not held, creating a resume/application, identifying career opportunities, continuing education through community or trade colleges, complete internships or other activities designed to prepare the resident for employment. A minimum of 3 months of job readiness training is expected with the attainment of employment for graduation of this level.
Level 4: Mothers will gain employment that will sufficiently provide for her family, show the ability to budget and apply all principles learned in earlier levels with little to no support from the program. Mothers in this level will be expected to pay 30% of her income towards rent for the remainder of her stay in the Acres of Hope program. A minimum of 3 months of stable employment is required for graduation of this level.
Program participants are offered ‘mini-graduations’ for each level with a formal celebration for graduation from all four levels.
How is success measured in the Acres of Hope program?
Acres of Hope instills the principle that when a person is willing to change, that Acres of Hope will provide the life-skills tools that will make them able to change. Many of our residents have not been able to get out of a cycle of addiction, violence, poverty, and many other issues they’ve faced. We provide training, support and accountability to be able, but this effort must be equally met by a complete willingness and surrender to the changes that are required to turn things around.
Many individuals simply aren’t willing to make such drastic changes, but for those who are – we stand proudly with them in their walk. We aren’t responsible for their choices (willingness) but can only take responsibility for the results of utilizing the information and tools provided to them.
To that end we measure success by using our 25 measurables. Residents establish goals and are scored upon entry and every three months of the program. Our job is to move them along a continuum showing that they are indeed accomplishing goals and living a healthier life for themselves and their children. We do not measure success by graduates, classes taken, beds filled or other ways of gathering data. We measure success by the quality of lives being improved.
Statistics can be bent to tell us anything, yet tell us nothing. We live in a culture that applauds numbers and speed. The healing of a heart cannot be accomplished by either. Our focus at Acres of Hope isn’t to count the meals served, beds filled or numbers graduated – but to teach family members how to set and work towards accomplishing goals that improve their lives. Our families come to us without vision, dreams or hope that they could attain them. Our job is to maneuver through the many challenges that each family faces and champion them towards a life lived abundantly. Setbacks are seen as part of the process and opportunity to turn potentially destructive decisions into a growing experience.
How does the Acres of Hope “renewal center” model differ from a homeless shelter?
Many different types of programs are necessary to meet the challenges of homelessness in any given community. Some program address emergency needs while other programs address specific issues. The focus of Acres of Hope is to address the whole person from the inside outward. The core issues that lead to their homelessness cannot be unraveled in 6-month program. For that reason our program takes a long-term, personally invested approach to bring stability and healing to each family. The chart below illustrates the basic differences between a long-term program like Acres of Hope and a typical homeless shelter.
||Temporary or emergency residence
|Open by referral only
||Open to anyone
|Structured and supervised program
||Free to come and go
|Services address all aspects of their lives
||Services address immediate critical needs
In what way is Acres of Hope a “Faith-based” program?
Our core belief is that we are uniquely created by God to have a relationship with Him and that each of us has a unique purpose to fulfill. Key to the program philosophy is that the women understand that God loves them, accepts them, and is on their side. Also important is the wisdom God gives us through the Bible for healthy relationships, parenting, finances, and daily living. Acres of Hope was launched by local Christians who take seriously Christ’s call to care for the poor and extend love, grace, and assistance to those in need. Families attend church as a part of the program but can select a church of their choice. Our goal isn’t to ‘make Christians’ of them but to ‘be Christ’ modeled. The rest is up to God, not us.
Who endorses the program?
Acres of Hope enjoys a positive relationship with local government agencies, churches, and other service agencies. At our grand opening, Acres of Hope was recognized and endorsed by county and state officials and continues to maintain regular communication with the education and mental health community. Please visit our website to see up-to-date on the various businesses, civic groups and churches who have endorsed our program.
How did the program get started?
The origin of Acres of Hope began with a vision to help women with children who are homeless and jobless. Local resident, Frank Calton, challenged his church, Bayside of Granite Bay, to put some seed money to launch the project. Another local developer gave matching gift that provided funding for the first year. Planning and prayer first began on September 23, 2004 when a few individuals and other pastors got together to discussed how homeless and jobless women with children are the most underserved segment of our community. They knew that a long-term approach is highly effective in helping these women, but that Placer County didn’t have a facility intently addressing the high recidivism rates. Rising to the challenge, other churches and individuals with the same passion joined in and Acres of Hope was launched.
How is the program funded?
Funding is provided by individuals, business, churches, and foundations supportive of Acres of Hope’s mission and purpose. We do qualify for limited private and government grants as Acres of Hope holds true to its Faith-based philosophy and program. All donations are tax deductible. Acres of Hope is overseen by a Board of Directors and has its own 501C3 non-profit status.
How did the program get its name?
The name originated from the song “Acres of Hope” by recording artists Shane and Shane . The concept for the song is based on the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament where a woman, Hosea’s wife, strays into a destructive lifestyle. In this touching story, Hosea is called by God to buy her out of slavery and restore her as his wife. The result is a clear picture of God’s love for each of us, and His desire to bring new life and restoration despite our bad choices. Acres of Hope is a place of restoration, healing, and grace. It provides the opportunity for destructive patterns to be turned around and hope to be restored.
Therefore I am now going to allure her.
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards and will make
the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of Hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth.
What do residents say about their stay at Acres of Hope?
“It’s like a family here. I’ve never had that before.”
“This program is truly a miracle for me and my family. It has saved me from alcoholism and is teaching me the skills to break the cycle of addiction and abuse, and to eventually become a productive woman and mother in the community.”
“I have learned how to engage and get engaged in Church and outside support. Teaching me to love again.”
“Gives mom and child safe place to live while healing and planning dreams for future.”
“Draws broken women closer to God. Teaching me to receive love – put loving people in my life.”
“Helping me to turn on desire to be a good parent and to be a part of it. Gift of grace and patience with kids, have kids in routine and schedule – focus on kids and desires to be committed to kids has been turned on.”
“Many assets like mentors – this will be a life long friend.”
“The support network AoH provides for each individual is unique. We have mentors (whether our choice or not – good thing) we always have someone to talk to now.”
“Learning how to cope with daily life clean and sober in a very practical way.”