In the early nineties, Nancy Kujawa saw a need and stepped up to make change happen. Through developing plans and researching options, she came up with one of her own, which is now known as Hannah’s House.
The 501(c)(3) has helped more than 200 women and 250 families since the inception of the nonprofit program. Not only does this homeless shelter provide a home for these women and families in need, it also provides food, clothing and aids in setting up lifelong success skills. Weekly classes and other resources are available to tenets of the Christ-centered nonprofit.
Executive Director, Deanna Arnett spoke about Hannah’s House and what sets it apart from other homeless shelters.
“Our motto is new life, new hope,” she said. “My favorite thing about the program is, first and foremost — we are a ministry. We believe that that’s the only way that women will overcome adversity in their lives [is] through Christ.”
The ministry program includes Monday night Bible studies, Tuesday night parenting classes, house meetings mid-week, Thursday relationship classes and nutrition or budgeting classes on Fridays. The house is home to four women, all of whom went through an extensive process to become residents of the nonprofit. Residency is open to pregnant women ages 18 and older, regardless of race, religious beliefs or financial status.
According to Arnett, the house is more than just a shelter, it’s a consistent program, providing hope and help for residents for years to come.
“We’re not just trying to give the homeless a bed, we are trying to make sure they have everything they need so they don’t end up homeless again,” Arnett said.
The program features two different tracks for residents: education, for those to finish high school education through cyber academies or achieve their GED, or the career-based employment track. Each track features different milestones and specific tasks for residents to complete off their checklist including part-time work, resume writing, mock interviews, savings accounts, Medicaid filing, securing an OBGYN and other tasks.
The residents are not required to pay rent during their stay in the program, for up to nine months after their baby is born. During their stay, however, women are required to put in a minimum of 25 hours per week of resume-building experience which could include volunteer work, a part-time job and/or school.
While other maternity shelter centers are often substance-abuse based programs and therefore take insurance; Hannah’s House differs.
The full nonprofit program runs mainly off donations, 80 percent donations, 10 percent grants and 10 percent fundraisers. Regular fundraising events include a silent auction every fall, a Bowl for Babies event in late February and a 5K run in the spring.
Hannah’s House is also home to another outreach program, Hannah’s Attic; which provides bags of clothing and supplies for community members.
“When we have excess diaper donations, we will donate them to the community as well, where they can receive an emergency supply once a month,” Arnett said. “We also donate bags of seasonal clothing to the community.”
Arnett recalled one of her fondest memories of Hannah’s House since joining the team in summer of 2016.
“A woman had come in — come to find out she was a former resident — and was very positive about the program,” she said. “Her daughter was a new teen parent and had just had a premature baby and they had nothing for the baby. She was able to come back and utilize the program and I was so excited to get to know a former resident who had kind of lost contact with us.”
A few weeks after that, that same former resident was interviewed alongside Arnett on WKAR, giving her Hannah’s House testimony. Soon after, the Michigan State Police Department donated a Christmas tree to her family and adopted them for the holiday season.
The continual help and support provided by the program is Arnett’s favorite part about her job.
“Not only are we helping women in this situation, but we’re a continued positive resource for them after they’re in the community,” she said.