In a house on Indy’s Near Northside live two staff members, five teenage girls and their babies—five mothers and infants who would otherwise be homeless. The house is ruled by discipline, support, and love. During COVID-19, it is also ruled by extreme emotions, anxiety, and trepidation. This house is Project Home Indy. 

This young nonprofit opened in 2011 as a refuge for homeless young women who are pregnant or parenting a young child. These girls have faced unthinkable trauma already, yet they are coming together to get through this time of national and personal uncertainty. These moms are not in school, some are unable to work, they have their babies at home because daycare centers are closed, and they are unable to go out for fear of being exposed – or exposing their babies to the virus. Their lives, like millions of others, have been completely disrupted.

For Project Home Indy, taking care of these young mothers and babies during COVID-19 means they need a lot more of everything than normal. They need more food, more diapers, more wipes, more cleaning supplies, more patience, and more hope – all the things other families need but multiplied by five. They also had to quarantine one of their 16-year-old mothers and her six-week-old baby after showing symptoms of the virus. At the time of this interview, everyone was healthy. And finally, eLearning started this week for the girls in school, so Project Home Indy is helping the girls stay on track with their academics.

“It’s extremely hard for everyone in the house, but our staff is showing up in ways I never would have expected and letting these girls know they are cared for, loved, and safe,” said Hope Hampton, Executive Director, Project Home Indy. “We are responsible for five children – and their children – and we want to make sure they have everything they need to get through this crisis safely.” 

Project Home Indy received a $10,000 emergency grant from Women’s Fund of Central Indiana to help them do just that. The funds are designated to support the operating needs of the organization, including purchasing food, cleaning supplies, and basic needs. According to Hope, who just joined the organization six months ago, the board was focusing on strategic fundraising prior to Coronavirus. With cancelled fundraisers, raising money is now more important than ever.    

“The money from Women’s Fund allows us to breathe a little bit at a time when we’re trying so hard to make it to the next level,” said Hope. “I have all of the faith in the world in my staff and in the girls we serve. In a way, the support from Women’s Fund demonstrates that same level of faith. It says to me they believe in the work that we do – and they value the work that we do.” 

Hope talks so passionately about the girls at Project Home Indy. Her biggest concern is living in a society that judges these girls without getting to know them. They have endured things that are unfathomable – and then on top of that have given birth and are raising babies, as babies themselves. Project Home Indy aims to break the cycle of poverty by helping the girls on a path to self-sufficiency and creating successful futures for themselves and for their children. 

“What I really want is for everyone to show compassion to our girls,” said Hope. “We want them to know we see them, we hear them, we understand them, and most importantly, we – as a community – are here for them.” 

In addition to caring for the girls and their babies, Project Home Indy staff have found creative ways to take care of each other. They created a three-tiered approach for COVID-19 staff wellness that includes:

  1. A private Facebook account where they can interact and positively engage with one another. 

  2. Fun, games, and socialization through the Houseparty app.

  3. A prayer line through Google Meet where they can submit prayers openly or anonymously.

“I’m really proud of how our staff members are finding creative ways to relax, laugh, and lift each other up,” said Hope. “It’s so incredibly important that we show up for one another in all aspects of our lives.”

If you would like to learn more about Project Home Indy and support them during COVID-19, visit their website at projecthomeindy.org. Donations of diapers, medical supplies, cleaning supplies, and activities to entertain the residents are among their greatest needs. Call 317-925-0980 to drop off donations. Project Home Indy also has an Amazon List, which will ship directly to their doorstep. 

Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, a Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) Fund, distributed $106,390 emergency grants to support women and girl serving organizations affected by the impact of COVID-19. Click here to learn more about Women’s Fund COVID-19 efforts or to make a contribution to the Women’s Fund COVID-19 Emergency Grant Fund.