Everyone needs help at one point of their life. This is especially true when you are a single mom raising children on your own. However, help is not easily found and life can be a struggle. With the help of IMHOME, some of these families have found the support and compassion they need to get through their hardship. IMHOME has become not just an inspiration, but a foundation to those that need it the most.
Since its founding in September 2006, IMHOME has changed the lives of the students and mothers of the Alexandria House in Koreatown. The Alexandria House is “a non-profit transitional residence that provides housing for women and children in the process of moving from emergency shelters to permanent housing.” IMHOME began as a school supply program to provide students with adequate tools for their education (markers, pencils, pens, crayons, staplers, rulers, etc.).
IMHOME’s mission is to “end the harmful effects of homelessness on the students and mothers of the Alexandria House.” Christina Kong, an incoming director for IMHOME, says that the organization runs on three core values: consistency, compassion, and desire to help others. More specifically, this includes promoting higher self-esteem, empowerment through education, and overall compassion for everyone.
A typical day at their Tuesday and Thursday sites begins with tutoring the children. Afterwards, they host a variety of activities that include college workshops and Jeopardy. Ori Benoni, the events coordinator for IMHOME, felt that she was not only a mentor to them but also a friend. Benoni said, “When the kids know your name, it’s really cool because it means that they know us and we know them.” A typical site visit is 90 minutes long, twice a week, where students are helped based on age, ability, and subject they need assistance with. Group activities are structured so that students are able to share their goals for the week, confidence levels, problems they’ve dealt with, solutions, and more.
At one site, Kong said she was making origami for the kids to look at after they completed their homework. The kids became very excited and decided to participate instead. Kong said one little girl collected the origami and gave her a hug because she was happy that Kong made it for her and her mom. At these sites, the IMHOME volunteers have had many fond memories and were happy to see the positive impact they made on the children.
IMHOME is also passionate about serving the mothers as well. On Tuesday nights, the directors and volunteers host dinner and dessert nights, where they cook meals and bake treats for the families. This evening allows the mothers to relax with their children after completing their busy days. On Mother’s Day, IMHOME brings over the CPO Technology team to take professional photos of the mothers and kids.
Overall, IMHOME has made the transition for the families just a bit easier. Over time, roughly 80% of the families have successfully transitioned out of the Alexandria House. Benoni said, “It is really empowering to see the moms and their children transition outside the Alexandria. While I’m sad they’re not around anymore [at site], I’m happy to see them moving in a better direction.”
In the future, IMHOME plans to develop their high school program so that they can better help the students with college preparation. Additionally, they hope to work more with the moms by doing career workshops around topics such as resumes and interviews.
For making a positive impact on the lives of the families in the Alexandria House, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows have chosen IMHOME as one of the recipients of the Winter 2014 Mongelli Award for Excellence in Civic Engagement.
For more information about how to get involved in IMHOME, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/uclaIMHOME or contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is open to all UCLA students. For more information about the Alexandria House, visit their website at http://www.alexandriahouse.org/.