Hope Haven doubles capacity, expands services

By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Catholic Charities’ Hope Haven Residential, the only crisis stabilization unit for adolescents in the state of Mississippi, will double the number of teens it can serve thanks to a new facility. The new home can accommodate 16 young people and will have an exercise room and a space for arts and crafts as well as group activities.
On Thursday, Jan. 25, a moving crew along with the staff of Hope Haven and other Catholic Charities programs rolled up their sleeves to haul beds, dressers, couches and everything else needed to make a home. They set up bedrooms, common areas, offices and more in hopes of having the new facility up and running by mid-February. The Knights of Columbus from Flowood St. Paul Parish followed to paint and make repairs.
Michelle Hamilton is the director of Hope Haven. She said the new home is more conducive to the needs of the program and she is very excited about expanding. Teens in acute crisis spend 14 days in Hope Haven. “They receive individual and group therapy. We give them a physical and a TB test. They meet with our psychiatric nurse practitioner to review their medications, if they have them, or consider if they may benefit from medication,” she explained.
The teens aren’t the only ones who get care. “We take in the youth and their families,” said Hamilton. Therapists work with the whole family to determine what has caused the behavior or situation that prompted the teen to go to Hope Haven. They then work with both the teen and family to resolve conflict and develop coping skills to help everyone in the future. The family participates in the therapy so healing and progress can continue beyond the stabilization period.
If a teen needs more residential treatment after two weeks, “we help find the right place for them. We provide referrals and facilitate the move,” said Hamilton.
Being able to expand services at Hope Haven will make the therapy done there stronger. “We are very excited about the exercise room and the arts and crafts,” said Hamilton. “The teens need to figure out new coping skills. That looks different for different people. Some have never been taught coping skills at all,” she added. She said when a child finds the right activity – a long walk, painting or drawing or exercise or meditation or any number of other things, he or she knows immediately when it’s the right coping skill for them. Being able to offer a variety of things to try makes Hope Haven an even better program.
“We are very excited to move into a larger facility that will allow us to provide more services and reach more children who need help,” said John Lunardini, COO for Catholic Charities. “With so few options in the state for teens who need mental health care, this expansion makes sense. It also fits into the mission at Catholic Charities to reach out to the most vulnerable. When we see a place where we can do more, we are going to step up and expand or improve our offerings,” Lunardini added.
The new facility will also have a clothing closet for the teens. Hamilton said Hope Haven would welcome donations for the closet, arts and crafts room, snacks for the residents and even gift cards. “Gift cards for restaurants and movies help us because we like to take outings with the residents,” said Hamilton. Those who wish to donate can contact Hope Haven at (601) 371-1809 or email michelle.hamilton@catholiccharitiesjackson.org or tammie.harper@catholiccharitiesjackson.org