Bob Kerns/Community of Hope
Jim and Janice Carleton, members of Holy Cross Parish, tour one of the common rooms at the newly remodeled Community of Hope, a shelter for families.
Bob Kerns/Community of Hope
Jim and Janice Carleton, members of Holy Cross Parish, tour one of the common rooms at the newly remodeled Community of Hope, a shelter for families.
Community of Hope family shelter began remodeling its home in North Portland in May. After five months of construction, the Hope House was dedicated Sept. 29.

Community of Hope was created out of a coalition of local churches, including Holy Cross Parish, seeking to help homeless families in North Portland. In 2014, the group formed to provide classes and transitional housing for homeless mothers, fathers and children.

“When they get here, there’s a comfort and stability that they have a place to stay,” said Linda Jo Devlaeminck, director of Community of Hope.

Each family has its own bed in its own bedroom. Families share common spaces like the kitchen and living areas. Living in a community of people facing similar struggles helps teach conflict resolution and communication skills that some parents lack, says Devlaeminck.

Residents go through classes including communication, employment and housing, and they meet weekly with a mentor to work on healing and goal-setting.

Healing. This is a focus for the program. Single families come with a lot of strengths and a lot of wounds, says Devlaeminck. Each family is encouraged to stay at the home for four to six months to develop new skills and habits and work on healing.

The renovation of the new Hope House allows for the housing of eight families at a time. Ninety percent of families that have gone through the Community of Hope’s program have moved into a place to stay.

North Portland’s Holy Cross Parish has been involved with the project since its conception.

“For us, it was an easy decision to make to have our parish get behind the effort to provide those things for these moms and their children,” says Father Mark Bachmeier, pastor of Holy Cross.

When he was presented with the number of women and children in his community facing homelessness, he was astounded.

“The numbers were pretty daunting,” Father Bachmeier said.

When the Community of Hope finally opened a home, parishioners were involved with preparing weekly meals for the families and dedicating many prayers.

As the time came to renovate, Holy Cross raised more than $10,000 to create a new kitchen.Parishioners sponsored drawers and cabinets and even the large appliances.

Being involved in the Community of Hope has a profound effect on volunteers, says Devlaeminck. It’s also had a tremendous impact on her.

“You get to see lives change,” she says. “What’s better than that?”

Wolf can be reached at [email protected]