History of HOPE Network for Single Mothers
The original organization of what became known as HOPE Network was established as a 501 (c)(3) charity in 1982 by Gail Grenier Sweet. Gail's original dream was to establish a residence for single mothers with infants; the mothers could live at the residence for a limited time while they "got on their feet."
In the early months, Gail began raising funds and collecting furniture and clothing to be given to single mothers. Items were store at her house.
She organized the first Board of Directors from a group from Feminists for Life. For four months in early 1983, they ran a group home called Hope House on Milwaukee's south side. The home provided a residence for three single mothers and their children, as well as a "house mother" who also was a single mother.
During this time, monthly support group meetings began with guest speakers. Hope House residents as well as single mothers from the general public attended these meetings. Clothing and baby equipment was stored and distributed from an empty garage on the Hope House property.
After four months of operating Hope House, the residence has to be closed because the landlord wished to use the house for another purpose. At the time, closing Hope House felt like a blow. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. From Hope House grew HOPE Network.
Experience has shown that you can help many more people for many fewer dollars if you operate a network instead of a group residence. HOPE Network has the advantage of outreach using various venues throughout town. Support groups, clothing bank services, and social events are provided in various locations on all sides of Milwaukee and the greater Milwaukee area.
The acronym HOPE stands for holistic-opportunities-parenting-education. Eventually, HOPE Network provided family social events as well as scholarships for the mothers, a free resource newspaper, and free portable cribs when available.
HOPE Network is truly a grassroots organization. Now, as in 1982, HOPE Network remains true to its original mission: providing a choice for single women and girls who face pregnancy or parenthood without a husband.