Hope House serves as beacon of hope for Jennings students - KMOV.com

Hope House serves as beacon of hope for Jennings students

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Hope House (Credit: KMOV) Hope House (Credit: KMOV)
JENNINGS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Last year, the City of Jennings settled a $4.7 million lawsuit with ArchCity Defenders after the legal group accused the city of illegally jailing poor people for being unable to pay traffic fines.

Most of the settlement has since been paid out to those who were jailed, but a final piece is being used to help improve the lives of children.

"It's not a shabby place. This is Taj Mahal for our babies because we love our children,” said Dr. Art McCoy, superintendent of the Jennings School District.

He’s referring to Hope House, a place for homeless children in the Jennings School District or children whose parents aren't fit to care for them.

"Jennings has approximately 200 homeless children and so it was essential to make sure that they had the support that they needed to be successful not just in school, but in life,” Dr. McCoy.

Dr. McCoy said it currently houses five students ages 5 to 17. 

"You can actually help when you see what the problem is but you really don't see it until after they are here and children have to feel safe. Once they feel safe, then you get to see what's really going on,” said Pam Price, who serves as the students' foster mom.

Plans to continue providing support to students are partly thanks to the $350,000 set aside by folks at ArchCity Defenders.

"Every time the city of Jennings was jailing somebody's mom or dad, it impacted these kids. Every time somebody gets evicted, it impacts these kids. These actions that our legal systems take don't end with the impact on the parents. They hurt the children,” said Thomas Harvey, co-founder and executive director.

So this is a way to change the cycle.

"It's the best feeling that you can have. You know that a way is being made out of no way that is changing the trajectory of not just one life but of an entire community,” said Dr. McCoy.            

Since its opening, three children have graduated from the Hope House. One is now in the military, another is working as a nursing assistant, and the last attends a local community college.

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