A house where young parents and children can become self-sufficient and thrive
By Ceili Cornelius
Grandma’s House of Central Oregon has long strived to create a safe space for the youth of the community. The home offers shelter for young people in need and particularly for young mothers who need support during and after pregnancy.
The nonprofit began in Central Oregon 30 years ago and was started by a group of community members, religious leaders and organizations that saw a need for a place that offered young people support, resources and a place to stay.
“We serve teen parents who are pregnant, parenting or adopting and who are victims of human trafficking,” said Program Director Eliza Wilson. “We teach them life skills, education classes, child support and a way to gain independence.”
The organization also helps by connecting their youth with mental health care when appropriate. “We service everything in-house and outsource to other organizations that we cannot service,” said Wilson.
Located in a house on the east side of Bend, from the outside it looks just as one would imagine a grandmother’s house. It has eight bedrooms and has been expanded over the years to fit the needs of mothers and their children. Young people may need a place to stay for a few nights or weeks—be it during an emergency or to escape a bad situation—or they can stay for up to two years. “Each family or individual has their own place to stay, and we really try to make it feel like home,” said Wilson.
As a young woman, Wilson was a resident of Grandma’s House with her child. She received valuable resources, lifelong support and skills so that her daughter has never experienced homelessness and has thrived.
“(I) understand where these youth are at in their life,” she said. “The mission is incredibly important to me—to end the multi-generational homelessness and change some of the paths the young people might be on.”
The Roundhouse Foundation recently funded the purchase of items for the home. Roundhouse and Grandma’s House started working together through J Bar J Youth Services, which strives to help young people in Central Oregon on their path to independence. “Roundhouse has really supported us with the funding to purchase items such as tables and chairs for the house, and a new dining room table so we can continue to make room for new youth that come to Grandma’s House,” said Wilson.
Grandma’s House mission serves broader issues for Central Oregon, too. “We want to provide resources to mothers and children and for them to become self-sufficient so we can end the cycle of homelessness,” said Wilson. An important focus is offering the education and life-skills for a smooth transition into independent living or a safe return to family. “When people think about supporting these young moms, it’s really all about providing them brief housing and lifelong support so they don’t become homeless again,” said Wilson.
Funding from local organizations is integral to these services. “Without the support of the community and organizations, we wouldn’t be able to do this work and create support and a space to lessen that multi-generational homelessness, and in turn, lessen homelessness across Central Oregon overall,” said Wilson.