City celebrates grand opening of 15,000-square-foot facility
Casey Van Divier--Six years ago, 6475 Benton St., on the corner of Benton and 64th Avenue, was empty.
But come Sept. 5, the location flooded with a bigger crowd than ever before as the community came together to celebrate the grand opening of the newly built Hope House Colorado Resource Center, the 15,000-square-foot-facility that now stands on the property.
Approximately 350 community members attended the event to take a tour and learn more about the center and Hope House, which supports teen moms by providing baby supplies, educational and self-improvement classes, a residential program and other resources.
The nonprofit consists of a residential home on Benton Street and the new center. The building includes childcare space, classroom space, a workout room, a laundry room, a dining room and the “Mama Bear Cave” — named by Hope House participants — where the moms can spend time with one another. It will allow Hope House to provide its community programming to 450 moms per year, where the organization’s previous center in Westminster served 250 moms per year.
“When I first heard about Hope House, I didn’t even think it was real, and I think a lot of moms still have that first thought,” said Hope House mom Diana Reyes, 21.
Because of that, it’s important to get the word out, she said, and the new center will do just that.
“It’s bigger and now that it’s more central, it’s a lot closer to everybody,” she said — and fellow moms, such as Denver resident Alixandria Jones, agreed.
“All of Colorado should know what they do,” she said. “There are a lot of teen moms who need to know life will go on. Hopefully one day, it could go nationwide.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there were 3,104 births among women under age 20 in Colorado in 2016.
The nonprofit is growing in its ability to serve more of these women, said Executive Director Lisa Steven, attributing the success to a number of groups, including Fellowship Covenant Church, HomeAid and Meritage Homes, who sponsored the project, and the city of Arvada.
The centralization of both Hope House facilities on Benton Street has made Arvada the only city in the area to offer such comprehensive services to teen moms — a byproduct of city council’s determination to collaborate with nonprofits, Mayor Marc Williams said at the event.
To be sure, Hope House expects women from all over the area to come to Arvada for the center, with many already traveling in from other cities: Lakewood, Parker, Aurora and Denver, to name a few.
Some commute more than an hour each day to get to Hope House, a testament to the uniqueness and necessity of the nonprofit, said Hope House graduate Janelle Markel.
“It’s important for Hope House to be here because there are so many teen moms out there who feel helpless,” she said. “They have a kid and think they have to stay home,” but Hope House teaches the girls that they can do anything with support, she said.
Williams, who cut the ribbon alongside Markel, said the city particularly supports the nonprofit because “it’s not a hand-out; it’s a hand up.”
Jenelle Yarrish, who graduated from Hope House, likewise praised the nonprofit: “it’s this space to be able to grow,” she said.
“It’s so hard to adjust to being a mom after coming out of your teen years. It’s nice there’s a place to teach you,” she said. “My quality of life has improved because Hope House inspired me to be a better person.”