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Finding hope

For the last five years, the House of Hope has been a place where teen girls in need can find help

April 10, 2010
By Jodelle Greiner

MARSHALL - House of Hope will celebrate five years of helping troubled teens with its Come Thirsty event at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Schwan Performing Arts Center at Marshall High School.

Theater for the Thirsty will perform the musical "The Psalm King" based on the life of King David. All the acting will be done by Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble, a husband and wife team.

"They play 100 different characters, with body posturing and voices. Very little costume changes," said Claudia Stenson, executive director of House of Hope. The Gambles have performed at the Come Thirsty event in the past.

Article Photos

Photo by Jodelle Greiner
Taylor, Emily and Ashlie stop to check out the flowers at House of Hope, a residential facility for girls with a variety of problems. In addition to counseling to work through their problems, the girls keep up their education and help take care of the house, including gardening.

All are welcome and admission will be a free-will offering, so tickets are not needed, Stenson said.

The name of the event was derived from "come thirsty for the Word of God," Stenson said. "It's that thirst we're trying to quench."

Come Thirsty is important to the financial well-being of House of Hope.

"No girl is ever turned away due to inability to pay," Stenson said, so a fund-raiser was necessary.

"We chose to do an event that would bring good, healthy family entertainment with a faith component," she said.

In fact, Christian faith is the current that runs through everything they do at House of Hope, said Stenson and counselor Kim Sanow.

House of Hope is a residential facility for girls ages 12-17. Six girls can be in residence at a time and 30 have gone through the program in the past five years.

"Young girls come to us hurting and we surround them with unconditional love," Stenson said. "We immerse them in the Word of God. It is our weapon, so to speak, when the enemy tries to deceive us."

Stenson got the idea for House of Hope "after going through crises with our own children," and wanted to give parents another option to help their teen girls.

"We wanted to help families before they were in a crisis situation with the law or the girls were removed by Social Services," Stenson said. "We want to provide a place where the whole family could be restored."

Placement in House of Hope is voluntary, and the problems the girls have cover a wide spectrum, including eating disorders and self-harming, problems in school like bullying, sexual abuse and promiscuity, "a lot of hurt and anger," Stenson said.

"We don't look at the surface issue," she said. "We look down deep to get to the root of the problem."

"It's so different for each girl," Sanow said.

Sometimes kids and parents get off track and neither party can figure out how to understand each other, exacerbating the girls' problems. That's where House of Hope can help.

"One of the things House of Hope focuses on is the family," Stenson said. "The family comes in for counseling every other week and parenting class every week. We don't accept girls unless the family agrees to commit to the package."

House of Hope also reaches out to prevent girls from needing its services.

"House of Hope Minnesota has a strong commitment to educate our community," Stenson said.

"Miss Kim does work in schools with relational aggression and cyber-bullying," Stenson said. They run a summer camp for girls, clubs in the schools, and non-residential programs for families in Lyon County for individuals, couples, and families.

"It's grown into a program that reaches out to try to equip people to function in today's society," Stenson said.



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