House of Hope wins $25k grant, thanks to community support - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

House of Hope wins $25k grant, thanks to community support

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Sandy Benak presents the check to House of Hope's Karin Rowe and Dusky Steel Sandy Benak presents the check to House of Hope's Karin Rowe and Dusky Steel
State Farm's Sandy Benak, KWWL's Abby Turpin, and House of Hope's Karin Rowe State Farm's Sandy Benak, KWWL's Abby Turpin, and House of Hope's Karin Rowe
Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart and House of Hope Exec. Director, Karin Rowe Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart and House of Hope Exec. Director, Karin Rowe

House of Hope gathered for a celebration Wednesday, and the two-year transitional program for homeless mothers has a lot to celebrate.  The program was one of 40 causes to win $25,000 in grant money through the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program.

"First, I want to make sure to thank Sandy Benak (a State Farm Agent in Cedar Falls).  She is the one who got this whole thing rolling," said Karin Rowe, Executive Director of House of Hope.  "We collaborated to write the grant and then she really got the ball rolling."

Benak spoke to the room full of supporters Wednesday.

"In June, I spoke with Karin and invited her to apply for the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program for House of Hope.  Entries would be accepted starting June 7.  On August 26, we found out that House of Hope was one of the top 200 causes.  This is where the journey began," said Benak.

State Farm Neighborhood Assist began in 2012.  After the top 200 causes are chosen, the public votes to select the top 40, each of which will receive $25,000.

So, House of Hope staff, supporters and volunteers got busy.  They got the word out to the community and beyond about how they needed them to vote up to ten times per day online.  In just the ten allotted days, 119,000 people across the U.S. cast 3.1 million votes in support of their favorite causes.  House of Hope finished in the top 10.

The grant money will be used to expand services by fifty percent for the new building currently being renovated at 845 W. 4th Street in Waterloo. The building, which used to serve as a dental practice, was a donation from the Christensen family in 2015.  It's expected to be move-in ready in March 2018.

"Seeing a mother being removed from all public assistance and being able to support her family is priceless," said Benak. "Then to see the children graduate high school and go on to college is so uplifting."

And Rowe tells KWWL that it's really hard to fully explain what this grant money will mean to their mission.

"The $25,000 means an apartment.  A space where families will not only have a roof over their head, but a place where they get the support needed to reach their goals and find security," said Rowe.  "And the voting means community support.  We saw the community lift us up and carry us over the finish line with this contest."

Learn all about the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program here and House of Hope here.

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