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After losing federal grant, House of Hope works to raise funds

By Katie Demeria

House of Hope in Front Royal is working hard to continue providing services to men in need -- even though the homeless shelter learned this year that it has lost a significant portion of federal grant money.

The shelter, which provides resources to men who are down on their luck, had been receiving a $17,000 grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the past two years. But that funding is not available this year, according to President Sigrid Hepp-Dax.

"Because of that grant we were able to hire a part-time case manager and a part-time outreach person," Hepp-Dax said. "And we were of course, as always, hoping that we could renew it again. But, under the present philosophy of the federal money, they will only fund housing, not shelters."

The case manager and outreach employee are both responsible for helping the men use House of Hope's resources, Hepp-Dax said.

"When you're at that point it can be very depressing, and you need the human contact and encouragement to keep going and not let that defeat you," Hepp-Dax said.

Without their services, many would not know how to go about getting jobs or improving their situations.

"Case management is really the cornerstone to helping people get back on their feet," Hepp-Dax said. "They work one-on-one with men who come into the shelter."

Once the men pass the drug and alcohol test and are permitted to use House of Hope's services, they meet with a case manager who works with them to better their circumstances. The men then meet with staff once a month until House of Hope's assistance is no longer needed.

The outreach employee is responsible for providing the men with the motivation they need to rise above the stress of their situations.

"She manages a series of workshops that they do at the shelter for the men to help improve their skills," Hepp-Dax said. "They encourage the men to realize that nothing is forever. Homelessness is temporary."

Hepp-Dax said Harmony Place, the women's shelter in Warren County, was forced to close its doors last year after it lost similar grants. She said House of Hope aims to prevent that from happening through fundraisers.

Since June 2013, the organization has been planning its annual Empty Bowl Supper, and now that it won't receive the $17,000 grant this year, its success is more important than ever.

"This is our fifth or sixth year, we've done it on the small scale," Hepp-Dax said. "And for the first time this year we actually have a fundraising committee to put it together."

"It's a really beautiful concept," she continued. "The soup line is usually how the homeless are fed at dinners, and we're recreating that idea in a way that is fun."

The event will take place on March 28. Local potters from the Shenandoah Pottery Guild will provide soup bowls.

"And as part of the ticket for the event, you get to choose a bowl and take it home with you," Hepp-Dax said.

Three Front Royal chefs, of Soul Mountain Café, Flint Hil, and the Griffin Tavern restaurants, will make the soups, and the Warren County High School jazz band will provide the entertainment.

"Anybody that wants to help us can come to our Empty Bowl Supper or send us a donation, and we are very, very grateful for everything," Hepp-Dax said. "Every dollar counts."

Tickets for the Empty Bowl Supper must be reserved by March 14. Adult tickets are $25, while students are $15 and children are $5. Those interested in signing up can go to www.warrencountyhomeless.org and download the flyer.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com

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