Homes for Hope visits Rotary Club of Picayune
Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2017
With many children in need of foster homes in Mississippi, a private children’s home is stepping in to provide children in need with the care and support they need to become thriving adults.
Melissa Litke, director of Homes of Hope for Children in Hattiesburg, spoke to the Rotary Club of Picayune Tuesday about the organization’s efforts.
“These children are here not because of anything they’ve done, but because of the mistakes of those taking care of them,” Litke said.
The organization began in 2006 by Executive Director Dr. Michael Garrett who lived in a children’s home as a child, she said.
After Hurricane Katrina, the number of children in need doubled in South Mississippi, Litke said.
In Forrest County, there are 60 children who need foster homes, but there are only two certified homes in the area.
“We are a Christian alternative to foster care,” Litke said.
The cottages at Homes for Hope were built to be that child’s forever home.
“Most children won’t become adopted,” she said.
There have been issues with the adoption system across the country, Litke said.
Too often, children are adopted and later given back, causing the children to lose trust.
Other times, foster children are allowed to go back into an unsafe environment with their parents, she said.
Litke referenced a 5-year-old she once worked with who went home to visit his mother and took him to his father’s funeral.
The mother forced the child to kiss the deceased man’s face, even after he passed out, Litke said.
“We don’t play that game,” she said. “If (they’re) not in a safe environment, they’re not going back.”
Many of the children come to Homes of Hope with their siblings, enabling the family to stay together.
The organization fights costly legal battles, sometimes with the Department of Human Services, to ensure children don’t go back to an unsafe situation.
“It’s amazing the difference you see in children that have had stability,” Litke said.
The Homes of Hope campus in Hattiesburg is in the process of building its third cottage, each housing seven children.
The campus also has a storage facility/grocery store, a counseling building and a duplex that houses support staff.
The organization is currently planning two more phases of construction that, once complete, will house up to 42 additional children.
Litke said the organization is also building apartment style housing for the children who graduate high school, but aren’t ready to leave the campus yet.
The organization relies solely on private donations, she said, and doesn’t accept government funds.
Partially, that is because the organization takes all of the children to church, and because the government’s standard of care is too low, Litke said.
“God is in charge of Homes of Hope for Children,” she said. “You can be the hands and feet of God by helping take care of children.”
More information can be found on the organization’s website, hohfc.org.