There Is So Much To Be Thankful For

1 Chronicles 16:34: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."

As the holiday season is already gearing up, we wanted to start the month of November by sharing with you that at Acres of Hope there is so much we are thankful for. Just recently we have been blessed to witness so many moments - from the tiniest of feats, to the grandest of accomplishments - and we are thankful for each and everyone who has made them possible.

Here are just a few of the highlights:

A mother has cleaned up her credit score, removing a hurdle to financial success. Three graduates have recently moved into their own homes with their children. An Alumni of Hope child has began taking karate lessons and earned his first yellow belt. A child who only recently arrived on campus has learned to use and understand the words, “I love you”. A baby is scooting across the floor and building those muscles to crawl. Another child has her first teeth beginning to break through the gums. Families are building new holiday traditions with visiting a pumpkin patch, and painting faces to create jack-o-lanterns. I recently sat on the steps of a resident’s cottage, and listened to the children play together as their mothers exchanged items and conversations as real “neighbors” do. As I witness it all I realize this is what healing looks like. This is the Story of Hope. This is the truth of why Acres of Hope exists. It is to see lives being transformed and renewed.

The women and children of Acres of Hope give all of us staff and volunteers something to smile about. It is because we get to see the Bible alive and active. We see hearts of stone melted. We see the lost get found. We see hope restored. We watch as despair is undone. We get invited to baptisms. We get invited to visit the homes of Alumni. We see Alumni of Hope return to inspire other residents going through the process of transforming their lives and breaking the cycle of homelessness.

At Acres of Hope there are many reasons to be thankful, we invite you to join us in becoming one of the reasons we give thanks,

Visit us at: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

You Have A Voice

Our Voice is God-Given. It exudes from the very breath of God who breathed us into being. May we use it wisely. Jodie Stevens.

Many people will say, “I am a voice for the voiceless”. However, here at Acres of Hope we are empowering women to use their own voices. We teach them the power of using their own words to overcome the years of being silenced. They have remained a lock-box of secrets, as the actions done in the dark remain hidden. They have been engaged by tactics of fear, and to teach them to use their own voices is one of the bridges to setting them free from the cycles of abuse.

Consider the following journal entry from a Woman of Hope,

Why we remained silent- A Monster of Rage

We feared the night. Feared the sound of our abusers steps. We feared our lives because they were threatened daily with death. We hid behind bruises, behind tears, behind walls. We entertained the thoughts that we didn’t matter at all. To be beaten does more than bruise the skin. It’s someone looking you in the eyes saying you’re not worthy externally or within. After gaining the courage to reach out for help, we were returned to our prisons of rejection, fear, and accusation. So we learned not to reach out, and learned to be silent. To prevent the glass house from shattering, and our predators became more violent. When we stood before judges, stood before courts, we were stripped of our children when they said on their own they cannot provide or support. We can’t bare leaving our children like we don’t care. So we wept before falling asleep to rest before the pain continues. You fight each day to wrestle the despair. Silence is a prison we cannot uncage. No one comes to turn on the light in the dark where the bogus gentle soul is truly a monster in the dark.

Allowing those who have seen the darkest of places, and behaviors to find and use their voices is one of the keys to seeing dysfunction end. It is the plalces where abuse is revealed, healing can happen, and as one of the root causes of homelessness, another cycle is broken. At Acres of Hope we help women and children find their voices. That’s exactly what happens, they not only learn to speak for themselves, rather they began speaking of their transformation and it inspires others to become brave enough to speak as well. This not only changes life for them, but can be the foundation of change for generations who are, have been, and are to come.

To join the mission of breaking the cycles of the silenced,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call: 530-878-8030

Weathering the Storms: From Surviving to Thriving

“We weathered the storm and learned to not just survive, but what it means to thrive.”

When I arrived at Acres of Hope with my two children, I was really angry. I blamed myself for making us homeless. So I stayed away from everyone at first. I was like a tornado, full of emotions ready to boil over. I just wanted the pain of my past to go silent. Yet the staff, mentors, and volunteers weathered the storms with me. Through their love and patience I began to grow. Then slowly, I began to open up to other residents and staff. I started to participate in daily workshops, classes, and programming. I realized my family was finally happy. We had a home. We were together, and we felt safe.

While at Acres of Hope, I flourished and so did my confidence. I began to realize that I could do anything I set my mind to. With God now as a pillar in my life, I believed He would be by my side as I took each new step forward. I no longer had to be ashamed of my past, because our future was brimming with hope.

Today, I’ve learned to trust. To let go of my anger, fear and hurt and to feel hope instead. I’ve forgiven my past and let people help me learn to love again. I really appreciate everything we’ve gained here at Acres of Hope. The staff gave us the assistance we needed to adjust and grow. I knew there was a better life waiting for me and my children. And guess what? We’re moving into our new home…just in time for the holiday.

A Mother of Hope

To be a part of transforming the lives of women and their children at Acres of Hope,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call 530-878-8030

Recess: The Transformation of a Little Boy

He came to us, and we immediately wanted to see his life changed. His oversized ball cap was pulled low to provide a hiding place for his little eyes. His hair was long and shaggy. His little teeth stained and chipped. When engaged he would quickly pull his hat lower and take a step behind his mother’s legs. He would wrap his little arms around them as tight as he could and squeeze his eyes closed.

Little by little his transformation was brought to the light. A little boy hidden beneath a hat, began to want to be seen. He wanted to run free. His eyes twinkled with hope and safety. His heart opened up to being loved. He has grown to love volunteers and staff who come to offer him stories, playtime, or an adventure. I often can hear him telling his best friend on campus, “let’s go to the park and ride our bikes.” Each day I see this little boy evolve I am overwhelmed by the grace and love of God.

Today once again I saw him. I sat at the dinner table with the families, and I listened as he told his tale. “Mom I get to go to recess now”, he said with a jubilant cry. The statement was huge, because for this little boy recess was something that he often lost during class time because of outbursts, hiding from the teacher, or distracting class with grunts and growls. When the teacher would speak to this little one, he would burst into tears, and run quickly to a corner to hide.

At such a young age, the root issues that caused this little boy to lack the social skills, and tools that his peers held, made him feel shame. Yet, tonight to see his little face lit with a smile. To hear the joy as he shared about recess. He spoke of his friends, of the swings, and the seesaw. He spoke of recess, more so he spoke of his transformation. For this little one to earn his recess, means his social skills are improving. He has a healthy environment to grow and learn at Acres of Hope. The evidence at school, is recess.

So excuse me, as I smile with the warmth in my heart at this moment, knowing that a little boy’s life is changing. Today it is recess, tomorrow it will be so much more for this child and his family.

If you would like to get involved in the transforming work happening at Acres of Hope,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call:530-878-8030

Power Outage

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Ephesians 6:10

Her brown eyes were wide. Her words were piercing. She said, “I have lived rough before and I know what it’s like to be without power; I know what it’s like to be on the streets.” Her words silenced the room. I asked her what was the difference between experiencing a power outage at Acres of Hope, and having no power out living on the streets. She said, “When you’re all alone out on the streets the one beautiful thing that happens is at nighttime you can see the stars.” Then she spoke as if in a whisper, “ The rest gets hard when it gets cold, or you didn’t get enough to eat, or a child you are trying to keep.” Then she looked up and stared right in my eyes and said, “A power outage here at Acres of Hope was different because I wasn’t alone and I had a roof over my head.”

As I considered her words, I pondered the world she used to know. The nights of rough or no sleeping. I considered how she may have gone to bed hungry some nights to make sure her child had enough to eat. I even thought about her viewing the stars at night, and considering something grander than herself. Yet the thing that stood out to her was that she now had a home and she was no longer alone. Considering in both scenarios the power was out, one situation held a hope for her, that she did not want to relinquish. Living homeless brought her to the doors of Acres of Hope. Yet the realization of faith, community, and stability is what will keep her here until she is ready to step out into her next level of thriving. The power of God is at work at Acres of Hope. Though physical power may be put out, God’s power to transform lives, and open the eyes of women and their children to a new way of being will never cease.

To see first hand how God’s power is at work at Acres of Hope schedule a tour today,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call 530-878-8030

In The Eyes Of A Homeless Child

The Diary of Jeremy age 9

In the eyes of a homeless child

We see a soul asking if I’m worth the while

The question in his eyes

Lying down in the backseat of a car on a clothes pile

He says, I gather them all around me, cause it keeps me warm

Mama gets us bagels from the bakery that are stale or torn

The holes in my clothes remind me I’m alive

Cause when the chill runs through them, I shiver for awhile

It’s how we survive

Everyone tells me I’m wise for my age

No one knows I don’t want to be, mama says this won’t be a chapter, it’s just a page

All I know is I’ve seen mama cry on many days

In my heart I question is this really just a phase

Another day passes, and another tear falls

I can’t wait til I’m old enough to take care of us all

Right now I’m too young, I just hope to grow

Sometimes I wonder if me and my mom will make it, or if we will travel to where the people in heaven go.

I’m just a kid, trying to survive, trying to live

Just hoping that somehow we’ll make it out of the car, and to a place where we can make the most of it.

One day I’ll see my mama’s face with no tears to cry

Yet today I still see the world through the eyes of a homeless child.

At Acres of Hope children no longer see the view of the world as a homeless child. They know the joy of love, support, safety, and transformation. For the child who prays for a place of refuge, there is hope. Acres of Hope.

To change the vision of a child seeking to end their cycle of homelessness,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

Leaving Grandma's House

“Acres of Hope is a safe and stable place where women and children can heal from the hurts that have left them vulnerable. We look at each family individually. Recognizing that safety and security are ultimately found in Jesus, we present Him as the solution to their pain while accepting them where they are in their journey.”

For Austin and Margaret their journey into homelessness left them separated. Margaret met Austin’s dad when she was 19 years old plunging into a life of drugs and risky behavior. During a time of being misplaced, Margaret was surviving on the streets. One day at a local park she came across a young man who loved to spend hours talking to her about the conditions of the world. After much dialogue and time Margaret became involved with Austin’s dad, and eventually gave birth to her beautiful little boy. Austin was 3 years old when he began roaming the streets with his mother. They survived by couch surfing, sleeping in public bathrooms, and abandoned buildings. Finally after visiting her mother, Margaret decided to give Austin a fighting chance at a real life. She asked her mother to take in Austin while she searched for a place to change her life. Austin spent 2 years living at his Grandma’s house, while Margaret roamed through shelters and work centers trying to find a way to change her circumstances. Eventually Margaret showed up to walk through the doors of Acres of Hope.

Austin had been placed in the custody of his grandmother for 2 years. Yet now that Margaret had a place to call her own at Acres of Hope, she was ready to do the work to bring her son home. Austin was moved back into his mother’s care when he was 5 years old. He began to adjust at Acres of Hope as his mom began setting up their lives. When preschool started Austin was showing needs in the (social/emotional) assessments as well as showing a lower level of development for his age . While homeless his mother was struggling to manage both their needs and emotional changes. Coming to Acres of Hope Margaret stated she was overwhelmed with filling a parent’s role. She didn’t know where to begin with getting Austin on a schedule, enforcing discipline, showing affection, and just basic parenting skills. We listened and revealed our program is here to give support to the family as a whole. Books, articles, suggestions, meetings, and community resources were given. Acres of Hope family support specialists, mentors, and volunteers from the community gave her tools to succeed.

In working with Margaret we were able to identify and build on the skills she did have and empower her to be an expert in raising her child. Margaret takes every opportunity to be active and involved in her child’s education, fully participating in the many offered activities to grow her child. Through time Margaret has shown a desire to continue improving, and working hard to be a model for her child. Today Austin is meeting and exceeding the age appropriate milestones. The family is engaged and growing in leaps and bounds.

Austin was able to leave his grandmother’s house and return to his mother’s care. Margaret was able to become and retain being the strong, healthy, and stable mother Austin needs.

To learn more about the lives being changed at Acres of Hope,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

Homelessness Is...

Being homeless means not being secure, not knowing where you’re going to go, or where you see yourself in the near future. If you have to contemplate about having a roof over your head or a refrigerator to get food from, then you’re homeless. In reality, homelessness is far different than the picture most Americans hold in their head, such as a piece of cardboard with a plea for donations scrawled on the front, dirty clothes and plastic bags.

Homelessness is the child’s stretched out hand as he enters the car of a social worker. Homelessness is the tears that hit the sidewalk a mother walks on. Homelessness is the employment rejection due to a lack of clean clothes. Homelessness is a steel bunk bed in a shelter. It’s the tent beneath the bridge, or the blanket in the woods that are the best refuge for a women and her child to stay together.

Homelessness comes to the child who ages out of the system. It comes to the young woman who steps away from a toxic family. It comes to the mother who says no more abuse. Homelessness comes when another paycheck fails too.

Many of these families run to shelters. Most shelters serve as a place of temporary salvation and rescue for people on the street. The majority offer food, beds and bathroom facilities, but for many seeking resources, jobs, housing, treatment, mentoring and guidance a shelter stay doesn’t offer the time needed to build the stability or the ability to sort through root issues needed to not return to homelessness.

Yet at Acres of Hope women and their children do find the resources and help they need to break the cycles of homelessness. They have time, support, community, and the tools needed to step out and live as a renewed family that can thrive in society. Acres of Hope is not a shelter, it’s not a home for those looking for a quick fix to a lifetime of dysfunction. Acres of Hope is a place where women and their children get a chance to be seen, heard, and supported. It’s a place of stability and healing. It’s a place where God reaches out his loving hands and proclaims, you are home. Homelessness is a symptom of the root issues that often traumatize lives. At Acres of Hope we have a remedy to those symptoms: love, grace and accountability, and the tools needed to help families step out on their own.

Join us in the mission,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

She Has Only Known Hope

Her little hands reach out accepting attachment. Her eyes sparkle with trust. Her tiny mouth turns up into a smile. The sounds of gurgling, and the new formations of grunts, and attempts at speaking fills the air. She came to us as a little bundle of cuteness. Today as I glance upon her little face, the words that keep repeating in my mind are, “she has only known hope.”

When she arrived with her mother at Acres of Hope they were surrounded by support, and stability. In her early days of life, she knew what it felt like to sleep in safety and warmth. She had quality food to put in her little stomach to help her grow. Her mother was able to provide for her the proper care she needed to be a baby filled with joy.

At Acres of Hope it is one of the greatest blessings to be able to say, a child has only known hope. The reason is for many they have already been affected when they arrive by the effects of trauma, and homelessness. Some taken into foster care systems, or living in unstable conditions. Yet when a child comes either in the womb, or in the earliest stages of their lives, we can be sure that the child that enters through our doors, only knows hope. As the staff answers the phone daily for the women and children waiting to find their refuge, and place to transform and renew their lives we pray to continue to grow in the provision. We pray that God will allow us to see more and more children come to know life can be full of hope.

To join us in allowing children to only know hope,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

When Homelessness Ends

The chain of a swing rattling with each glide through the air. The squeals of children laughing as they race around the track in Redemption Park on their bicycles. Pasta sauce smeared across the face of a young child learning to eat big kid foods. The quick feet of a mother racing in to proclaim the victory of getting her drivers license, repairing her credit, getting her first car, or better yet, the approval of her own first home.

At Acres of Hope something amazing is happening. The cycle of homelessness is ending. You can see it in the children’s faces. You see it in a mother’s jubilant stroll. You see it in the women that no longer hold their head down as they pass by. Instead they look you in the eyes as they tell you their most recent success. This is new life, this is hope.

We recently have watched mothers branch out and move into their own homes. They have launched forward with their friendships intact with other moms who have gone before them. These families are plugged into church. Mothers have jobs and can provide for their children. They are radiating life and light to those who are here at Acres of Hope just beginning their process of renewal. The beauty of seeing the moments when homelessness ends, is the precious time when you are able to know God is still at work today transforming and redeeming lives.

At Acres of Hope homelessness is ending. The cycles of dysfunction are being broken. Lives are renewed and transformed. You can see for yourself how homelessness is ending at Acres of Hope. Schedule a tour, and see how God’s mighty hand is at work changing lives.

To schedule a tour,

Call Acres of Hope today at: 530-878-8030

Defeating Shame

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” Ann Voskamp

I remember her, more so I remember her face. She was crumpled down on her knees. Her face flush with small blotches of red scattered across it. Her eyes were filled with water, glistening beautifully, but I knew they held pain. She held a paper in her hand, it was one that revealed that she had been awarded full custody of her daughter. Yet her hands raked through her hair. Through her whimpers her voice became more audible. I heard her say, “I wish my daughter never went into foster care.” She began pouring like a flood the stories of where she had been, and what she had seen. Each story was one that would tear through the human heart. One after another she poured forth her journey, and revealed why her child had to be placed in the system.

It was interesting to me that such a time of rejoicing was shadowed by such grief. She had fought a long road to get her daughter back. Fought a long way to renew her life. Each decision a step closer to this day of victory. Yet it seemed when her sun was there to shine, the clouds of shame hovered over her like a thick blanket. She shared her stories. She shared of her tragedies, shared of her pain. At the end of the release of all that she had been holding in her heart, she was asked one question. I asked her, “Will you allow the shame of the past to taint the joy of the present?” She looked up at me with those burdened eyes, and she said, “I don’t want it to”. The words that followed were potent for her heart. I told her, “You are forgiven for your yesterdays, and you have forgiven the ones who hurt you in the past, it’s time for you to know the freedom of today.” Those words gripped her as she considered the young child playing in the park, that would be permanently back in her care. She picked herself up off the ground along with the paper she had been holding. She said, “it’s time to go tell my daughter she is home.”

For some, recovery is the physical expression of success. For many they would hear that a mother received full custody of her child, and express how proud they are of Acres of Hope for helping guide a family to reunification. Yet it is so much more than just seeing the external changes. We have to remember true transformation is from the inside out. If the inside is still wounded, then it will be only a matter of time before a person returns to dysfunctional ways. The true measure of success is transforming a life from the inside out and watching renewal take place.

At Acres of Hope we see that those who are a lock-box of painful secrets and stories from the things that have happened to them, or they have done in times of desperation, keep people in places of shame. To set them free, we must be willing to hear the difficult stories with compassion, and share truth and light into some of the dark situations they have faced. In doing so you allow room for a person to grow, heal, and transform from having a heart of shame, to living a life of freedom. It’s time to defeat shame.

If you would like to help women and their children to step out of shame, and walk in the light of hope and freedom,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

I'll Protect You Mommy

He was 6 years old. His big innocent eyes, grew narrow, his gaze intensely set upon the staff member who approached his mother. “I’ll protect you mommy”, he said. As his mom and the staff member shook hands, the young boy, stomped his foot as hard as he could onto the staff member’s shoe. It was his protest, his best defense, to ward off the threat to his mommy. You see for this little boy he witnessed the early effects of domestic violence that took place in his home. He witnessed the blood that ran down his mother’s face. He heard the screams for the pain to stop. He saw his mother in the corner weeping. He was the one who would bring his blanket over, and try to wipe away her tears after his dad walked away. He was the one who would try to clean up the mess so his mother could smile again. He was the one who thought inside of his little heart at such a young age, I will protect you mommy.

Right away some hearts may say, well why didn’t his mother just leave. Why didn’t she walk away. For some of the women trapped in a life of abuse, they haven’t learned there is any other way. At Acres of Hope we hear the stories behind the scenes. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment when they were children. The same symptoms in friendships, then relationships. They grow up in a world where they didn’t even know there was a different life possible. Their corners of the world showed them this is all they get, all they feel like they deserve. So then becoming a mother, many will do everything they can to prevent their children from being physically harmed. So they learn to take more pain onto themselves. When the child comes, that baby may be a relief because it is a comfort, and love that this mother has not experienced. Yet there also comes more pain, for when the child cries, leaves a mess, or needs more attention than an abuser, more pain is heaped onto the mother trying to protect her child. Yet what isn’t realized is seeing the violence, hearing and watching the pain, is traumatic for the child. In innocence the child will want the abuse to stop, the pain to go away, and to no longer have to see his mother crying. So he learns to say, “I’ll protect you mommy”.

For you or I, seeing a child say such words, knowing how innocent, and small such a precious being is we would rise to say no way. It is you little one who we will protect. Well I want you to know that is what we are saying at Acres of Hope. We will rise to show you and your mother a new way to live. We will help your mother grow strong and healthy, and know there is a life outside of domestic violence and dysfunction. We will remind you both and teach you of your value and worth. So that you will know you can be a child, and that you will be safe in your mother’s care. That she will be the one who protects you.

To join the Acres of Hope Community in rising to show our families a new way to live,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call:530-878-8030

Just Let Me Hide

“Complexly traumatized children need to be helped to engage their attention in pursuits that do not remind them of trauma-related triggers and that give them a sense of pleasure and mastery. Safety, predictability, and "fun" are essential for the establishment of the capacity to observe what is going on, put it into a larger context, and initiate physiological and motoric self-regulation.”
Sarah Benamer, Trauma and Attachment

Just let me hide because I'm scared
Don't even try, don't even dare
To approach me, because I don't trust
Don't dare speak to me, it might all seem like to much
Don't reach out for me, I will cower away
Don't make eye contact, that's to much for today
If it's time to eat, let me hide with my food
Don't interrupt me, or that might seem rude
Don't ask about my scowl,
Or why I may growl
Just let me hide
I'm only five
This world has been to loud, it's been to much
Just let me hide until I can trust
That you are safe.

It's a journey, and a process that our children walk through to heal, and renew their young lives. They do not come in and become whole in a day. Acres of Hope staff, volunteers, and mentors work hard to take a child who comes in filled with fear and a lack of trust, to a point where they know they are safe and loved. We are no ordinary place, we are empowered by God.

To become a part of healing the lives of the children at Acres of Hope,
Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

Mommy I need a hug: The power of connection.

A hug is defined as an act of holding someone tightly in one's arms, typically to express affection. Research shows that hugging may also help reduce stress and lower your risk of anxiety, depression and illness. Consider what a simple hug can do: Help you feel connected, and can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Most of us have seen it. It is the videos or the news stories of a baby at the brink of death, and the power of a mother’s touch, that can bring that little one back to the full measure of life. The tears of worry that we briefly share turn into smiles of joy. As if something in this world has been made beautiful and right. Moments like that happen everyday at Acres of Hope, and we get to see the impact up close. It comes in the simplest form, a hug.

A little boy named Micah he moves swiftly through kitchen. You hear the shuffle of his little feet on their search for Mom. When he arrives and meets her gaze, his eyes set upon hers. His little arms reach up high anticipating her embrace. His words questioning, “Mom, up please”? As she gathers him in her arms, he rests his head upon her chest, and his word so sweet, but so desperate, “Mommy I need a hug”.

You see for both Micah and his mom this moment is probably so much more than you realize. For Micah’s mother physical touch was not something that she was used to. The only physical touch she knew growing up brought pain. When she arrived to Acres of Hope she would often weep, and proclaim, “I don’t know how to show him affection, that wasn’t how I was raised”. Yet as his mother experienced support, encouragement, and the tools to change her life, she became open to the power of connection. She no longer felt she was walking in this world alone. Where she once refused hugs, she began to open her arms, and embrace the wonder of being embraced. This changed everything, because it was a form of touch that did not hurt. Instead it brought her peace.

Micah reaped the benefits of the transformation in his mother. His mother loves him, so she began to embrace him in this new found comfort. Micah began receiving hugs. At first he would firmly stretch out his little arms to push away the embrace. He would scream at the sign of physical affection. However, little by little the arms began to open, and his head would begin to rest upon her chest. Micah felt the comfort, and stability of being held in his mother’s arms.

Today at Acres of Hope as we hear those words, “Mommy I need a hug”, we smile because we know the transformation it takes to hear them. We understand that for a child to express their need, means they have learned their mother can answer their cry. We can see that when a child opens up their arms, they are trusting the one who is entering into their embrace. This is the power of renewal here at Acres of Hope, a place where the power of connection heals.

To learn more about Acres of Hope or how to get involved,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call 530-878-8030

It Stops With Me: The Power Of Resilience

It stops with me, because I will not be, the product of what has been set before me.

It stops right here, beyond the pain, storms, and the tears, because I will not adhere to a legacy of fear.

It stops right now, because I will not back down, to any challenge that opens a new door, someway, somehow.

I will fight for something better, I will face what may come whenever.

I will no longer cast my worth to the distance

Be subjected to the wreckage of toxic instances

Rather I will grow strong and unveil the caged brilliance

Of what it looks like to show the world my resilience.

Stingrays: Becoming Real

He gasped when he saw them. Stingrays? They are real, he thought to himself. He had never even considered the possibility that these amazing creatures could exist beyond the TV screen. He watched Finding Nemo at every chance he could get. He was always mesmerized by “Mr. Ray” a cartoon protector of the children of the sea. That’s all he wanted was protection for him and his mom. He found comfort in thinking there might be a place where protection is found. Perhaps he and his mom could become a part of a community. For him his hope was in a fictional cartoon character. A hope unvoiced, until the day his eyes revealed all, on a trip to the aquarium when he was staring at real life stingrays.

His eyes were filled with wonder. His tiny hands planted against the wall. He stared through the glass at the water as the stingrays weaved and danced between one another. Every now and then a small smirk and a little chuckle would escape and fill up the room with joy. This was the moment when a fictional story that brought a young boy hope was transformed into something real. It was no longer just a movie, or a dream. Instead it was something alive, inspiring hope right before his eyes.

“Mommy”, he whispered, “this is real”. His mother came close and knelt down beside him. “It is isn’t it”, she replied with a small chuckle.

At Acres of Hope every single day, women and their children find out that the things in their life that seemed only a fictional dream are actually becoming realities. For the mother dreaming of having a home of her own, a dream becomes real. For the child wanting to have friends and live in a safe and stable environment, this becomes real. For the family that wants to break old cycles and live in a new found freedom, they find out that life is a reality.

For one child recently visiting an aquarium, stingrays were found to be real. At Acres of Hope for women and children wanting to break the cycles of homelessness, they have the opportunity to see that reality fulfilled.

If you would like to see for yourself the reality of homelessness ending, schedule a tour with us today. See for yourself, the reality of transforming lives, and ending broken cycles.

Call today at 530-878-5300 or Visit: acresofhopeonline.org to learn more.

Father's Day: The Mentors We Know

“Children with mentors are 46 percent less likely to do drugs, 33 percent less likely to resort to violence, 53 percent less likely to drop out of school, and 59 percent more likely to improve their grades. One-to-one mentoring has also been shown to lower the rates of teen pregnancy, suicide, and gang involvement in communities.” John Sowers

It’s a few days until the annual surge in tie buying by 5 year olds culminates in a Sunday morning of burnt toast, runny eggs and hand drawn cards that make grown men cry. The ritual that is Father’s Day is almost upon us and for those lucky enough to have their fathers still in their lives it is a special day to reach out, say thank you, and do something for that man in your life who taught you so many lessons both big and small.

For many, their father is or was their greatest teacher, revealing how to live. A healthy father communicates to their children what is acceptable behavior and what is not. They reveal how a child is to act, becoming the ultimate role model that a child aspires to become. The outcome of a child growing into an adult is frequently a direct result of the relationship had with the father, or the lack of one.

James, the brother of Jesus, says in James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The word “orphan” doesn’t just mean a person whose mom or dad died or abandoned them. The deeper meaning of that word means “one who is without a way.” We live in a world with orphans all around us. At Acres of Hope some of the words used to describe the relationships between our mother’s and their fathers were: absent, abusive, violent, fear, and unknown.

Women learn from their fathers what to expect of a man. It’s why fathers are so pivotal in a young girl’s life. A strong father-daughter bond, will create a young woman who seeks out healthy men who are respectful and loving. A weak, or missing bond creates a hole in the soul that longs to be filled. Often times leaving a woman searching to fill those holes with anything.

Yet at Acres of Hope the women and children who have found themselves with father voids find out that God provides. That He is the father to the fatherless. They learn God sends his people to be His hands and feet here on earth to fill those father wounds. Pastors, volunteers, and Angel Grandpas become the mentors who become the loving guides that reveal the heart of the Father.

This Father’s Day, we encourage all of you to reach out and thank all the men in your lives that have contributed to your journey. Thank you to the fathers who loved, dedicated, sheltered, and sacrificed tirelessly to guide and parent their own children. Thank you to the father figures who stepped in to mentor and fill the voids left by those who couldn’t fill the role of being a father.

It is in that spirit that we encourage you to reach out to the mentors in your life and thank them this Father’s Day. They may not be your relatives, they may not be legally related to you, but if they have had a positive effect on your life, if they have taught you valuable lessons, or been there to pick up the pieces when things fell apart – take the time and send them a card, give them a call and tell them how important they are, and how grateful you are, for them in your life.

Reaching out to those who have helped us up along the journey is rewarding to them, and to us. It won’t take long, or cost much, but it will be priceless to the one who gets that card or that call telling them how thankful you are for their being in your life and showing you the way.

On behalf of all of us at Acres of Hope, we are so grateful for the tireless dedication and loving support given to our families everyday by so many “fathers” - our mentors, volunteers, and Angel Grandpas. You are making a difference and showing them what a healthy, safe, loving man looks like in this world.

To become a mentor, volunteer, or angel grandparent,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

His First Bed: Acres of Hope

His small little hands were clutching a red suit case. It bounced back and forth against his little knees, as he made his way down the sidewalk. His mother listened to the staff run down a list of information about their new home, and meal times. He lifted his hand towards the gate, and took a deep breath. “This one”, his mother said, as she pointed the way to their new home. He walked up the stairs, and peered inside of the front door.

The key turned in the door latch. His mother took her hand, and gently slid the glass door back. His little feet crossed the threshold. His eyes scoured his new home. He set down his little red suitcase, as his mother said, “We’re Home”. His walk was slow. He scanned his new environment. Then his eyes were set on something that would soon bring him great pleasure. At a quickened place he ran a few steps. He looked back at his mother with a question in his eyes. His mother’s response was simple, “Go ahead that’s for you”. As quickly as the words left her mouth he leaped onto his new bed. His mother watched with water forming in her eyes and stated, “He has never had a bed before”. The Acres of Hope staff that surrounded this new family felt the weight of such a statement. They listened as he gleefully jumped for joy on his new found possession. A bed that he could call his own. A tear trickled from his mother’s eye, as he finally grew tired and laid flat on his bed. She knelt down beside him, and through her choked up voice, she told her son, our lives are about to be transformed.

At Acres of Hope, many families come with limited to no real resources for survival. They must learn what it is to have all they need to thrive, and feel safe.

The safety and stability the Acres of Hope families are experiencing is because of your kindness and generosity. Whether it is those who volunteer decorating a cottage, donate funds, or those who provide a Mickey Mouse comforter like the one on our new young resident’s bed, your impact makes a difference. The women and children no longer feel like they are fighting alone. They now know they have a place they can call home. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the love and support you show Acres of Hope families.

To be a part of changing the lives of women and children breaking the cycle of homelessness,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call 530-878-8030

Closing Doors

“Bye Bye Mommy”, I heard her squeal. The sound of the door opening and closing was powerful to me.

Just a short while ago we had no door to open and close. We roamed the streets, and as she fell asleep, I held her, and our back pack of belongings, wondering if today would be the day someone would come and take her away. For some people open doors seem to find them wherever they turn up. For me closed doors seemed to be the theme of my life. When I needed love, there was a closed door. When I needed support, there was a closed door. When I was trying to find stability there was a closed door. When I wanted to work, an employer would take one look at me and the doors were slammed in my face.

Yet there came a a day when a door opened. It was at Acres of Hope. I waited for the rug to be ripped from under me, and the door to be slammed in my face once again, but that day never came. Instead the door of hope was opened. All the closed doors I had experienced in my life had been opened. I found stability, support, employment, and a healthy life for me and my child. It was then that I realized it was time to close some doors of my own. It was time to close the doors of dysfunction. Close the doors of homelessness and instability. Most importantly, close the door on fear, so that I could leave open the door of hope and a future for me and my child.

At Acres of Hope, women and children are able to walk through the open doors of hope, transformation, and renewed lives, and close the doors on homelessness, trauma, and dysfunction. Acres of Hope is breaking the cycle of homelessness for women and their children with each opportunity that opens the doors to bringing them into a hopeful future.

To learn more about the open doors at Acres of Hope visit: acresohopeonline.org

Reaching Potentials

There is no easy way to escape living in crisis. Since our founding Acres of Hope has challenged many homeless mothers with children to grapple with that difficult truth.

And not everyone can. It takes a certain type of woman to stand up to everything that’s ever damaged or broken her and take full, complete control of her life. It’s difficult. It’s painful. And again, it’s not for everyone.

Acres of Hope is for the woman who wants to make the leap. Who will fight the pervasive influence of homelessness, poverty, and abuse. Who will make an empowered decision to rise up and become a productive community member. Who understands, unequivocally, that the decision to create a better life – for herself and for her family – rests entirely on her.

At Acres of Hope we know what our clients need to become self-sustaining. And it’s much more than just being housed, clothed and fed. It’s giving mothers real love so they can finally learn to love themselves. It’s helping them fully realize their potential. It’s establishing a sense of self-worth and readiness for the real world.

You can be a part of helping the women and children of Acres of Hope reach their true potentials. To get involved visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call: 530-878-8030