AGENCY SPOTLIGHT: HOUSE OF HOPE – MARCH 17
Author: Hilary O’Neill
House of Hope is a resource center located in Ione, Washington, at the very top of Pend Oreille County. This small house provides a lot of care and love for the communities of Ione, Metaline Falls and Metaline.
The director, Audrey Smith, started House of Hope almost 10 years ago, with great support from the community and individuals. She comes from a background of teaching, social work and caring for women. She started a nonprofit that focused on aiding homeless pregnant women in the Portland area. When she retired and moved to Ione, House of Hope became her newest way of serving the families of the region known as ‘North County.’
They provide food, resources and classes for women and children. Smith cares so deeply for the clients she serves that she requires all volunteers to undergo background checks to ensure that they don’t have to potentially face an abuser when trying to feed themselves or their children. She also wants to keep teenagers from engaging in dangerous activities by keeping them busy and engaged.
Pend Oreille County is considered to be extremely rural by the state of Washington, with approximately nine people per square mile. Second Harvest has four partner agencies in the area, where it is estimated that almost 10% of the population is living in poverty. According to Smith, approximately 85% of her clients are women, with an average age of 58. She also mentioned that her clients are typically either elderly women or young single moms who are trying to make ends meet.
Smith and her work at House of Hope inspire us to reflect on the challenges that women have faced throughout history and the work that is still required to ensure that women have access to the food and resources they need to thrive.