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Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime

Kara Mapel, Residential Program Manager

The kitchen table is often the center of the family home. It is where families come together to tell stories, share their accomplishments, revisit their day. At Hope House, while the family dynamic may not be a traditional nuclear model, the teen moms who are part of our Residential Program can become family.

As girls from different backgrounds and cultures come together in an unfamiliar environment, they have very little common ground. However, meals have long brought people together, no matter their histories or circumstances.

So meals are important… and so is the actual table because it is functional and should lead to community. We recently realized that our kitchen table was functional but did not lend itself to building community. Our “table” was actually a series of tables placed together, creating an awkward seating arrangement that made meal time feel disjointed.

A New Table
We went on a mission to build a new kitchen table that would not only provide a much-needed piece of furniture for the house but also a tool to help unify the house. Through this process, we made a few interesting discoveries along the way!

Our new table is composed of three pieces, with each component adding to the functionality of the structure. This is just like Hope House, which includes many components that work together to help our teen moms become upstanding young ladies in the Denver community.

The Table Legs
The legs are one of the strongest parts of the table. They provide stability no matter how much weight rests upon it or how unbalanced these loads are. In the case of our new kitchen table, this support is divided between three separate legs that work together to create a solid and unwavering foundation -- much like the staff members of Hope House.

As teen moms enter our Residential Program, they often come from lives that are chaotic and unsteady. The “not knowing” aspect of their lives creates an enormous and unbalanced burden on each of them, and typically they lack the support they need to bear such a heavy load.

Many of us take for granted that if we have problems, assistance is only a phone call away. This is not the case for many of our girls who have never known the luxury of consistent support.

They have learned they can not count on anyone but themselves and and that they must bear their burdens alone.

The three legs of our table symbolize “God, self and staff,” with God being the center leg; as the Bible says, “God is the center of all things.” As our teen moms progress through the program, they learn that they do not have to rely on themselves alone -- they can turn to staff to help them, and even more importantly, they learn that turning to God for help is possible. These three entities work together in each girl’s life to give her the solid foundation she needs to support herself and her children as they move through life.

The Tables Stretchers:
The table stretches are something many of us don’t even notice in our lives, but the stretchers work with the legs as part of the foundation to support the structure. On the table, the stretchers look like boards that help hold the legs together, and in part, that is exactly what they do -- but they also do so much more. They actually play an integral role in the support system when the burdens get to be too large for each individual leg to handle on its own.  The table stretchers help the legs to share the burdens by transferring the load from one to another.

These stretchers symbolize our volunteers. These individuals do so much, such as provide food, transportation, tutoring and mentoring for the young women in our Residential Program. They may not provide the direct support the girls require, but they do provide the ancillary strength for our staff members, helping to transfer the loads from one leg to another.

The Table Top:
The table top is the most noticeable feature of the kitchen table. Highly versatile, it is where family members come together to be nourished by the generous bounty that the Lord provides; it is the place where students finish their GED homework; it is where they study for college exams. It can be a place of fun where games are played and a place filled with emotional stress when difficult conversations or punishments for indiscretions are addressed.

The table symbolizes the very place where life happens at Hope House of Colorado... a place where our teen moms can grow and become the best that they can be through support, encouragement, spiritual enlightenment and a community. The table is home!

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Blog Archives

January 2018

Organizational Growth Cycles: Stages that Lead to a Mature Nonprofit - 01/23/2018

November 2017

Knowledge Share #19: Creating Unity: The Power of Mealtime - 11/20/2017

October 2017

Knowledge Share #18: The Power of Networking - 10/12/2017

September 2017

Knowledge Share #18: Engaging the Millennial Generation - 09/19/2017

August 2017

Knowledge Share #17: When the Dream Seems Too Big - 08/17/2017

July 2017

Knowledge Share #16: Personalized Learning - The Cornerstone of our GED Program - 07/18/2017

June 2017

Knowledge Share #15: Special Needs and Special Moms - 06/08/2017

April 2017

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children - 04/18/2017

March 2017

Knowledge Share #13: Managing Volunteers: Benjamin Franklin had it right! - 03/13/2017

February 2017

Knowledge Share #12: Advocacy and Self-Sufficiency: Finding the Balance - 02/14/2017

January 2017

Knowledge Share #11: Effective PR and Spot On Communications - 01/18/2017

November 2016

Knowledge Share #10: I Walk the Line: Creating Deep Connections While Maintaining Professional Boundaries - 11/15/2016

September 2016

Knowledge Share #9: "Fundraising for Non-Profits: An Insider's Perspective" - 09/22/2016

August 2016

Knowledge Share #8: Breaking Out of Poverty - 08/18/2016

July 2016

Knowledge Share #7: Creating a Home - 07/11/2016

June 2016

Knowledge Share #6: The Power of Mindset - 06/14/2016

May 2016

Knowledge Share #5: College or Bust! - 05/17/2016

April 2016

Knowledge Share #4:Understanding Addiction - 04/07/2016

March 2016

Knowledge Share #3:Mentoring Empowers Teen Moms - 03/21/2016

February 2016

Knowledge Share #2: Healthy Relationships - 02/11/2016

January 2016

Knowledge Share #1: Brain Development - 01/12/2016

December 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #8: Communicating the Barriers - 12/16/2015

October 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #7: Homelessness - 10/09/2015

July 2015


June 2015

Teen Mom Barrier Number #5: Domestic Violence - 06/03/2015

May 2015

Teen Mom Barrier # 4 The Challenges of College - 05/12/2015

April 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #3: The Unexpected Bill: Car Repair, Doctor's Visit, Broken Pipe - 04/03/2015

February 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #2: Childcare - 02/18/2015

January 2015

Teen Mom Barrier #1: Society's Negative Expectations - 01/26/2015

December 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #7: Teen Moms Are Completely Self-Absorbed - 12/29/2014

October 2014

Teen Mom Misconception #6: Teen moms drop out of school because they want to - 10/31/2014

September 2014

Teen Mom Misconceptions #5: Success is Impossible - 09/22/2014

July 2014

Misconception #4: Shaming Teen Moms is an Effective Approach - 07/22/2014

June 2014

Misconception #3: Mentoring Teen Moms is Complicated - 06/05/2014

May 2014

Because they want someone to love them? - 05/21/2014

April 2014

Teen Moms - A Persecuted Population? - 04/22/2014

March 2014

Connecting across the Continents: Teen Moms and the People Who Love Them - 03/18/2014

February 2014

Can you break out of poverty with a vocabulary of just 900 words? - 02/17/2014

January 2014

Community - 01/20/2014

December 2013

8 Pennies - 12/18/2013

November 2013

"The most courageous young women I know." - 11/14/2013

September 2013

Our Graduates: In their hands, they hold the future! - 09/30/2013

August 2013

The Cliff Effect and Other Perils on the Journey to Self-Sufficiency - 08/30/2013

July 2013

Breaking the Cycle: Do Poor Teens Have to Become Poor Adults? - 07/30/2013

June 2013

Measuring the Intangible - 06/15/2013

May 2013

Grown-Up Mom - 05/01/2013


Recent Comments

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home ea ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kristina Shade said: Laura, you are such a blessing in our daughter and grandson's life. I remember Kyra coming home each ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Lisa Steven said: Laura, you are an amazing teacher! You are making a huge impact in the lives of our young moms ...   [more]

Knowledge Share #14: Creating Connections through Children
Kerry Kelley said: What a great post, Laura! That was so insightful and caring! It almost made me cry! I love the pe ...   [more]

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Caty love said: Danielle is one of my friends back from high school and just wanted to stop by and show her how hap ...   [more]

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