House of Hope was created in the late 90’s as a startup nonprofit organization by a group of healthcare professionals to help mothers who weren’t receiving substantial prenatal and postnatal care because they didn’t have a stable and safe home. By partnering with numerous nonprofit organizations, House of Hope was able to start providing a holistic program to the young mothers and children in the Green Bay community. Its specific services include providing a safe home and basic necessities for these families, as well as support to young mothers in need of attaining:
- Safe and stable housing
- Employment, career stability, resume development, interviewing skills
- Positive parenting skills
- Financial literacy, budget counseling, debt management
- Nutrition and meal preparation
- General education diploma (G.E.D.) acquirement and secondary education
- Healthy living skills
- Positive thinking, mental health, anger management, stress reduction/manageability
- Healthy relationships
The nonprofit started out with a four bedroom home only able to assist 13 families at a time. The community need for the services House of Hope provides continuously mounted with 18 new families added to the wait list each month, resulting in almost a seven-year waiting list. Three years ago, to close this gap, the House of Hope board, staff, and community leaders initiated a plan called Key to Hope to raise money to expand its facilities and services. The Key to Hope campaign has successfully raised $3.6 million dollars through fundraising events and big and small private donations.
This campaign enabled House of Hope to add a new wing of housing, expanding to 27 rooms; a healthcare and therapy unit; two playrooms; and an expansion to the kitchen and dining area. House of Hope is aiming to raise an additional $1 million to sustain this growth.
As the Executive Director for House of Hope since 2012, Shannon Wienandt has served at-risk youth since the beginning of her career in nonprofit work. Prior to joining House of Hope, Shannon served youth at the Boys and Girls Club. She holds her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. At House of Hope, Shannon works to deepen the impact of the nonprofit’s services and create a sustainable future so that the nonprofit can continue to serve young mothers and their children.
We had a chance to talk with Shannon to get her insight into several facets of being a nonprofit leader. Here’s what she had to say.
What are some things you know now that you wish you knew when you first started as a nonprofit leader?
Most people who work for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations wear a lot of hats. I wish I had more experience in many areas when I first started, particularly computer networking and the legislative process. Over the years, I have learned so much from the talented people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. The nonprofit sector provides lifelong learning opportunities in numerous subjects, but I’ve learned that relationship building is the most important.
What has been your biggest source of pride as Executive Director?
I am so proud of the great work our team does here at House of Hope. I get to be around the most caring and intelligent people every day. I love to see the young parents we serve achieving their goals, and it’s heartwarming to witness their children being proud of them. It’s wonderful when a House of Hope family can move into their own apartment or celebrate a milestone, like earning a G.E.D. or getting a promotion at work.
What are your three biggest accomplishments in your career as a nonprofit leader?
My biggest career accomplishments have been the result of partaking in the efforts of a team to create improvements where opportunities for community development existed.
1.) Working with the staff team, Board of Directors, volunteers, and shelter residents to expand House of Hope and provide more opportunities. We developed structured, state-recognized programs resulting in a 250% increase in services provided which serve the need in our community for youth experiencing homelessness.
2.) With a team of professionals, I helped to organize and facilitate state-wide trainings, resulting in a significant cost savings for many nonprofit organizations.
3.) Alongside other caring professionals, I opened after school programs in two rural, underserved communities. This well-rounded youth development program was conducive to creating opportunity and fostering educational advancement for at-risk, school-aged youth.
What are the dominant challenges you see nonprofit organizations facing and what do you think would be viable solutions?
Nonprofits employ professionals on many levels and are not always able to offer the same wages and benefits as other companies. Often, staff are working with less resources and tools and often doing the work of more than one person. Making it a priority to show how much the staff and volunteer team are appreciated is very important. Investing in appropriate systems and technology is crucial, as is offering great benefits for staff; this is an important step in the right direction.
What other Executive Directors or philanthropic leaders do you look up to?
There are many amazing directors and philanthropic leaders I look up to. To name a few:
Talia Leman is the CEO and a founder of RandomKid, an organization that empowers young people to do good deeds by providing structure, staff, and a tax-exempt umbrella organization to receive and disperse funds . She started her philanthropic journey at age 10.
Warren Buffet who, among many other philanthropic adventures, founded The Giving Pledge in 2009 with Bill Gates, whereby billionaires pledge to give away at least half of their fortunes.
How do you see the organization changing in the next two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
House of Hope Green Bay will be deepening the impact of the programs and services offered to our community. Over the next few years, a concentration of measuring effectiveness and discovering opportunities for improvement in the programs and services provided will ensue. We will move forward with a focus on collaborative efforts with other organizations in order to provide individualized services and remove barriers for the success of those who need us most. House of Hope remains flexible in order to serve the need the community is presented with and holds true to its mission of providing a safe and supportive place where young parents and children experiencing homelessness will become confident, independent, and successful members of our community.