Project HOPE: Teen emergency shelter is available in Hancock
HANCOCK — It sometimes happens a teen ends up not living at home, either because of conflicts with the family, or unexpected homelessness, and Project HOPE is intended to fill the teen’s need for shelter, according to Tom Cowan.
Cowan is the youth outreach specialist for Child and Family Services that oversees Project HOPE, which provides emergency shelter for teens who have run away from home, or are homeless for whatever reason.
Project HOPE existed locally from 2009 to 2012, and the current iteration began in 2015, Cowan said.
Cowan said teens come to Project Hope through various methods.
“We do take referrals,” he said. “We try to get out in the community and pass out flyers.”
There is no charge to use the service, Cowan said.
“Our program is completely free,” he said.
The organization, which has its offices on Hancock Street in Hancock, is also in contact with local police departments and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which inform the organization of teens who possibly need emergency shelter.
Cowan said Project HOPE finds shelter for eight to 12 teens each year. They stay at a local home until it can be decided whether they return home of go somewhere else.
“We use a foster home in the area,” he said.
The teens are expected to follow the rules of the foster hosts, Cowan said. If a teen walks away from the foster home, 911 is called.
Project HOPE is intended for teens 12 to 17 years old, but on occasion they will work with 11-year-old children.
Cowan said teens are not ordered by anyone to use Project HOPE.
“Our program is strictly voluntary,” he said.
The teens’ psychological and physical health are considered when they become involved with Project HOPE, Cowan said. If they need psychological counseling they may be refereed to Copper Country Mental Health, and if they need help with drug or alcohol problems, they will be referred to the appropriate health care representatives.
“We try to do preventative measures,” he said. “Our ultimate goal is reunification with the family.”
Toward that goal of reunification, Cowan said the representatives of Project HOPE will act as mediators between a teen and his or her family.
“It’s a logical conclusion with what we’re doing,” he said.