The House of Hope-Cumberland Children’s Center has received the Governor’s Award of Excellence in honor and recognition of its commitment to provide a “safe haven to children who experience life-altering tragedies in their home environment… and the provision of necessities, love and safety which give these children an opportunity to survive.”
Dave Worland, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, presented the award Aug. 25 on behalf of Gov. Bill Lee.
The Governor’s Award of Excellence recognizes the work of faith-based and non-profit organizations and initiatives in transforming communities and improving lives of Tennesseans.
“We are thankful and blessed to have a community that has reached out and stepped up to insure these children are cared for,” said Denise Melton, House of Hope executive director.
She particularly thanked the staff, volunteers and donors throughout the House of Hope and its fundraising Threads of Hope Thrift Store.
“None of this would be possible without each and every one of you!” she added.
House of Hope is one of 15 faith-based nonprofits and community initiatives across the state selected to receive the Governor’s Award of Excellence for the important and meaningful contributions each has made to the community.
House of Hope is the result of former Sheriff Butch Burgess’ vision of a facility to meet the needs of children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect and/or a drug endangered environment.
It was created as a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization to assist Cumberland County departments and agencies, such as the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Children Services, by providing a safe and homey environment for short-term housing, forensic interviews, and supervised visitations for children and parents.
Additional programs have been implemented to address community needs as they have been identified:
• GRACE provides support to grandparents or relative guardians caring for children removed from the parental home.
• Choices Classes provides a safety net for kids who have made poor choices, such as first-time offenders.
• Generation Next offers a summer camp of educational and recreational activities for up to 12 youngsters ages 8-12 who might otherwise never have such an opportunity.
• Angel Tree provides Christmas for children who have been referred for need. With the support of sponsors, donors and volunteers, 634 children and youth received Christmas gifts in 2021.
House of Hope receives no government funding but operates with the support of the community, generous donors and organizations, and income provided by the Threads of Hope Thrift Store.
“Our dedicated volunteers are the mainstay,” Melton said. “Without them we would not be able to provide the needed services. New volunteers are always welcome to join us in this worthy cause.”
As part of Lee’s inaugural legislative agenda, the Tennessee General Assembly created the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in April 2019 as a self-funded, independent nonprofit organization with the mission of bringing “faithful and compassionate people together with state and local governments to find collaborative solutions to our toughest issues and leverage opportunities that contribute to the flourishing of Tennessee communities.”
Through the TN Connects initiative, a statewide database of nonprofits and houses of worship, the program connects organizations with local and state governments to advance and implement identified best practice programs in communities across the state.
There are 51,000 non-profit organizations in Tennessee. Among them are 11,500 houses of worship and 30,000 organizations identified as “socially engaged” in work to meet needs or create opportunities to improve the lives of Tennesseans.
The aggregate staffing of these organizations numbers approximately 223,000 with an aggregate budget of an estimated $16.4 billion.
Additionally, there are 13 state agencies representing approximately 23,000 staff members and a little more than $9 billion in the state budget that have historically engaged non-profits and houses of worship to assist them in carrying out their work.
The Initiative also partners with existing nonprofits and communities in a number of ways. Faith and Community Conversations invites communities to partner in the efforts to enhance the quality of life where they live.
The Volunteer Mentorship Initiative involves partnering with existing non-profits to train and equip volunteer mentors to pair with degree-seeking inmates during their time in prison and first days back in their communities.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Partnership is increasing support of law enforcement and non-profits who are already fighting human trafficking in Tennessee.
TN Prays is a prayer initiative with more than 800 citizens praying daily for every executive, legislative and judicial branch by name every day.
The TN Fosters Hope initiative addresses urgent issues facing children and youth in Tennessee. It was reported in February that 8,000 kids were in foster care and another 350 were awaiting adoption.
The Initiative works with houses of worship and nonprofit organizations to increase the number of foster homes and the number of kids being adopted, and to increase the number of houses of worship that are “trauma informed” and that provide support to foster families through wrap-around services.
Visit tnfbci.org or its Facebook for additional information about the Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives.