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Hope in Action: Our Partnership With HOPE Springs

HOPE Springs is a very special place. People come from diverse backgrounds and experiences to live in a communal environment for 6 months, with the goal of transitioning them to stable housing. It is a program of Northern Nevada HOPES, a community health clinic that offers sliding scale physical and mental health services. On E. 4th Street, they have built 30 tiny homes; so that people experiencing homelessness can come to a safe place to grow and thrive.  

HOPE Springs uses a housing first model, which means exactly what it sounds like; getting people into safe housing as the first step. After their basic needs are met with shelter and food, residents receive high quality health services from HOPES staff and are supported by peer specialists to find employment, go to therapy, and secure permanent housing. This model is shown to keep those experiencing homelessness in stable housing longer, decrease emergency room visits, and build healthy life skills.  

We’ve partnered with HOPE Springs since they opened in December 2021 and first began by leading weekly gardening classes with their residents. This has expanded into offering once a week cooking classes using the garden’s produce, as well as caring for their two honeybee hives.  

Now that you’ve got the logistics of our partnership, I want to tell you about the feeling of HOPE Springs. It’s all in the name over there, hope is literally palpable when you walk through the gates. You can tell that residents are working hard on themselves, and their relationships to stay in the program. Also, that caring staff wants to see each of them succeed. Not to say that it’s a perfect place all the time; rather that people’s authenticity, their experiences and their story are welcomed and fully shining.  

Historically, Urban Roots, has worked primarily with children ages 5+ in our hands-on gardening programming. We are used to asking everyone to hop like bunnies to get in line or hold their fingers in a peace sign to gain their attention. When I began working at HOPES, the idea of working with adults was frankly, intimidating. Over time, I learned by watching how HOPE Springs staff talk with their clients. They meet them where they are at, advocate for them, empower them and call them in to learn healthy patterns and life skills.  

Our staff has developed strong relationships, with both the staff and the clients at HOPE Springs, through the simple acts of planting seeds and cooking a shared meal together. We prioritize topics that residents want to learn and highlight their existing skills in the garden or kitchen. We’ve had several residents lead the cooking workshops, based on a family recipe they felt passionate about sharing. In this way, our work with residents is no different than with kids on the farm.  

Everyone, no matter their age, has: 

  • a shared desire to be seen for who they are; 

  • to be listened to;  

  • to be laughed with; and,  

  • to be encouraged to grow every day.  

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