WASHINGTON, DC — House of Help City of Hope, a charity organization highlighted in Episode 5 of Opportunity Lives’ Comeback miniseries, celebrated its 20-year anniversary of successfully helping people out of poverty, drug addiction, and domestic violence situations. Bishop Shirley Holloway, the organization’s founder and president, described the graduation as “a transition from the house to independent living. “
“They’ve been taught how to handle themselves, how not to give up, how not to get stressed, how not to get depressed,” Holloway told the crowd. “But if they do, they’ve been given the recipe that pulls them out of it.”
Bishop Holloway’s ministries offer a variety of programs that are tailored to the individual needs of the person and their family. House of Help City of Hope is one of the few organizations in the country that takes in entire families when one member needs help. They start by meeting the immediate needs of the person or family by providing food, shelter, clothing, and counseling. As a person goes through the program they are given tools and skills to help prepare them to get a job and support themselves after they leave the house. Many graduates of the house volunteer their time after they finish to help others overcome similar situations. After 5 years of abstaining from substance abuse and determining that a person is responsible and accountable they can join Bishop Holloway’s Homeless to Home Ownership Program. This program helps individuals to purchase property and become homeowners.
Graduates of House of Help City of Hope stand on stage with Bishop Shirley Holloway (far right).
One House of Help alumna recounted her experience of coming to the ministry in 2005 after 26 years of drug and alcohol abuse. Since leaving House of Hope she has been clean and sober, gotten married, and is now a mother and a preschool teacher.
Over the last 20 years House of Help City of Hope has helped over 60,000 people in the Washington, DC metro area with a recidivism rate of 15-25%, compared to the national average of 30-59%. It is the heroes like Shirley Holloway, who believe in redemption and transformation rather than rehabilitation, who inspired the Comeback series.
Bob Woodson, Founder and CEO of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, called Bishop Holloway “a redemption factor” and said the “nation needs you as a partner in national defense”. Both Woodson and Holloway emphasized the idea of personal responsibility over getting a hand out from the government. “They’re hurting people with a helping hand” said Woodson.
Woodson has served as the motivational speaker for the graduation program for the last 15 years. He told the graduates, “Addiction is easy because you don’t have to do anything but stay addicted. The challenge comes when you have to be responsible for someone else.”
“Freedom is not free because it places demands on you to be responsible,” Woodson stressed.
Center for Neighborhood Enterprise Founder and CEO Bob Woodson.
Bishop Holloway concluded the program by saying they are on their way to obtaining the funding to expand and buy another building for the House of Help City of Hope ministry.
“You can start late or start slow. It isn’t how you start; it’s how you finish,” she said.
Congratulations to Bishop Shirley Holloway and all of the staff and members of House of Hope City of Help for 20 years of amazing service in fighting the war on poverty and the countless lives they have transformed.
Ashley Craig is the Digital Director for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @aacraig1280.