A nonprofit that exists entirely on donations is giving homeless women and children in Auburn a place to stay for up to two years.
Acres of Hope is close to a school and has plenty of trees on its three-acre campus. There’s capacity for 10 mothers, with up to four children each, plus another two homes for families that have graduated its program.
Acres of Hope CEO Lisa Risdal says women who are accepted to the program learn life and coping skills. They also don’t have to worry about basic, fundamental things, like safety, food or having a place to sleep.
“Now, she can focus on, ‘OK, what do I need to do now so that by the time I graduate here in two years, I'm a strong, independent woman and I'm a loving and nurturing mom,’" Risdal said.
Deanna Martin is a recent graduate of the program. Mothers are required to be drug-free. She went through rehab before she arrived. "You go through some curriculum and spiritual and emotional and mental growth,” said Martin, who said curriculum lasts about nine months.
Today, Martin is employed and living on her own with custody of her children.
The curriculum is faith-based, but there is no requirement to be Christian to be in the program.
Risdal says about 90 percent of the women who enter the campus graduate, usually after a year and a half. They move into on-site cottages where they live independently and pay rent on a sliding scale. Between 20 and 50 volunteers help with landscaping and maintenance. The site is a retrofitted mobile home park.
Risdal estimates program costs at about $40,000 per year, per family. Acres of Hope accepts no government funds.