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An agreement between non-profit House of Hope and Ashton Baptist Church is a match made in heaven.
The arrangement provides a home for a new Christian day school program for struggling teenage girls, while utilizing church facilities that would otherwise sit empty during the week.
Leaders from Ashton Baptist Church and nonprofit House of Hope celebrate a new agreement to allow the organization to open a Christian day school for struggling teenage girls at the church. Pictured (left to right) are Harold Huggins, Pastor Gary Scarborough, House of Hope Maryland Executive Director and founder Kathy Hambrecht, Youth Pastor David Williams and Deacon Don Sweeney. - photo by Kathy Hambrecht
Local resident Kathy Hambrecht is the executive director of House of Hope Maryland. She learned about the organization while attending a Christian women’s conference 10 years ago. The founder of the House of Hope ministry in Florida shared her vision for a residential home and school for struggling teens.
“It was at a time in my life when I was searching for what to do,” said Hambrecht, who had a career as a physical therapist. “I looked to see if there was a House of Hope in Maryland where I could volunteer, and there wasn’t one. That was my calling — to start a House of Hope.”
It’s been a long journey. The organization began counseling teens in 2007, but the ultimate vision has been to start a residential program.
“We get a lot of calls from families who have done counseling, but are desperately looking for something more,” she said. “There are not a lot of resources out there and they are at a loss.”
Due to the costs of starting a residential program, the organization shifted its focus a couple of years ago to starting a day school program. After looking at several facilities to house the program, organizers met with Ashton Baptist Church officials.
“They were very excited about what we want to do and have welcomed us with open arms,” Hambrecht said.
Don Sweeney, a deacon at Ashton Baptist Church, said several things motivated church officials to make the space available to House of Hope.
“We are a small church, and let it be known that our church was available to another congregation where that made sense,” he said. “Our church has always had the attitude that the building is not owned by us, but is for use by community folks in need.”
He said they believed in the mission of a Christian school for students who were not successful in a typical school setting.
After meeting with House of Hope, the decision was put to a vote by the entire congregation, resulting in a unanimous decision.
“We make the facilities available to them and they make a monthly contribution to defray costs such as heating and air-conditioning, and that is a benefit to both of us,” Sweeney said.
House of Hope will utilize an office space, as well as a separate area that will be configured with cubicles for the students.
Furniture and educational materials were donated by Hampshire View Baptist Church on Ednor Road.
The program will be able to accommodate up to 10 girls, ages 13 to 17, when it opens its doors in March.
Hambrecht said the typical student could be dealing with emotional issues, rebelling, not doing well in school, failing to follow rules, dealing with depression and/or anxiety, promiscuity, running away, cutting or attempting suicide.
“Usually it is a mix of all of these things,” she said. “We want to share God’s love with the kids, provide acceptance and unconditional love, offer hope and help them to discover their purpose and the plan God has for them.”
The students will typically attend the school program for nine to 18 months.
“We will help them get back on track to making healthy choices and decisions, and will help with the process of transitioning them back into their school,” Hambrecht said.
The school will offer a sliding scale for tuition, but will not accept government funding, which would prohibit it from sharing the Christian perspective.
The school will use the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum, an individualized system that allows each student to work at her own level and pace. The program offers a high school diploma and transferable credits if a student chooses to reintegrate back into her high school.
The program will also include weekly counseling, life skills training, community service and parental involvement.
“The whole goal is to heal, restore and reconcile the teens and their families,” Hambrecht said.
Volunteers are needed to serve as tutors, life skills instructors and community service coordinators. Funds also are needed.
Hambrecht said the past few years have been a roller coaster ride, but she is thrilled to open the day school program, which she hopes is a stepping stone to their goal of establishing a boarding program.
House of Hope will hold an open house 4-7 p.m. March 9 at Ashton Baptist Church, 17826 New Hampshire Ave. The event is open to the community and area businesses. For more information, go to www.houseofhopemaryland.org or call 301-452-7252.
Terri Hogan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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