The Hephzibah House offers programs for women to heal from past wounds through the teachings of Jesus Christ. Program Director Amber Dolezal purchased the house in 2006 with the intent of helping women in need.
The house opened in 2007 and uses a Biblically-based program as their guide.
“At first, we mirrored it from a ministry in Cedar Rapids, called House of Hope.” Dolezal said. “We kind of took ideas from that and built our own (program).”
Dolezal believes in second chances and offers a six-month residential rehabilitation-program to help residents reinvent themselves while staying at the house.
“We’ve added the option for them to stay three to six months, depending on if they need additional transition time,” Dolezal said. “We’ve added the option of a day program, where they participate in the classes but do not live in the house.”
They have noticed an increase in popularity in their evening classes. In order to better prepare their students, they also added a social worker to their staff.
“That is a growing thing,” Dolezal said about the evening classes.
“We have just hired a social worker to help the women transition,” Dolezal said. “She works with them with life skills, resume writing, job interviews, budgeting and communication.”
The social worker is currently working with two residents to obtain their GEDs.
They are renovating the third floor, which was used for storage, into a “quiet time” room. Once completed, it will allow residents a place to study.
Some of their studies have remained the same over time, but one change in their itinerary was the addition of a community outreach program. During this time, residents volunteer and give back to the community.
The house also offers “chapel time,” during which members of various church organizations offer their services to the residents. They no do not have an affiliation with one particular church, which allows them to open their doors to all Christian faiths.
“We wanted all the churches in the community to get involved and support us,” Dolezal said. “We are a Christian Biblical-based program, so anyone who wants to participate in our program is welcomed.”
Residents at the house pay $250 per month for rent. It covers all expenses.
The YMCA also allows residents to use their facilities at no cost. The free membership allows mothers to provide various activities for their children. The program does not allow children to stay with their mothers during their time at the house but allows visitations.
Residents of the house have to follow a certain set of rules. One of the hardest rules for many residents is no cell phones.
“There is no TV,” Dolezal said. “They can watch movies, but just with a PG or PG13 rating. There is no Internet. They have to go to the library to use the Internet. We believe that God wants us to submit ourselves to him so he can transform our minds.”
The reasoning behind this is to allow residents to focus on their studies, but there is a home phone available for residents to contact their families.
The house is funded by donations, and Dolezal said they are grateful that many local businesses have helped them over the years.
“We have a needs list,” Dolezal said. “We are a non-profit organization. Everything that we have is donated. We run completely off donations.”
They had planned on renovating the third floor since they opened but at the time lacked funding. Their December fundraiser was able to bring in enough money to cover the cost of renovations.
They still keep contacts with alumni, and some even work for them.
“Two of the women that graduated are on staff,” Dolezal said. “They are live-in staff. They are our house mother and our house mentor. It’s been really good for the program, because they have somebody who has been there.”
Dolezal said they are looking for help during the renovation, which is scheduled for Feb. 7-9. No set skills are required. Donations can be made to the Hephzibah House at 721 E. Fourth St. N. from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. For additional information, call (641) 792-1232 or contact Dolezal at (641) 831-5095.
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.