HOPE receives Lakeview Foundation grant

OAK PARK HEIGHTS —- HOPE Adoption & Family Services received a $5,000 grant from the Lakeview Foundation to continue their community outreach and services.

HOPE is a non-profit organization in Oak Park Heights that unites children with families and works with domestic and international adoptions. They serve as an advocate for those involved in adoption, and help women with unplanned pregnancies make decisions and supply them with resources in the healthcare and clinics in the area going forward.

HOPE has been around for about 35 years and also offers outreach programs at a variety of places to make people aware of the “adoption option” as Development Director of HOPE Nancy Okerman Lyner calls it.

The foundation grant committee approved the grant and, according to foundation Executive Director Paul Erickson, what set HOPE apart is: “This is the only organization in the valley that we know of that is supplying these services and Lakeview has had a relationship with them for many, many years.”

He added, “The overriding criteria (for the grant) is that there needs to be a health and wellness benefit as it relates to their mission, Putting kids in families to help meet their need falls under this category. And there’s a long tradition of support in the area for HOPE adoption services.”

HOPE applied for the Lakeview Foundation grant because they saw the need for it, especially in their birth parent programming that has been in operation since 1989.

“A lot of birth parents are younger, in their teens, and they don’t have anyone to turn to or the resources available to them,” said Laura Murray, public relations coordinator for HOPE.

“In general, we serve as a place for them to discuss their options and help them make the decision that is right for them, we don’t align pro-life or pro-choice, after we discuss their options with them and if they decide adoption is the right choice for them, we help them as they go through that process as well,” she added.

“We also make sure to connect them to healthcare and clinics in the area because many girls who do come to us have not had prenatal care,” Okerman Lyner said.

These services are provided without cost to birth parents and this grant allows HOPE to continue with those services going forward. It also allows the organization to continue with their outreach programs. Okerman Lyner and Murray felt that these programs have really allowed the organization to let people know they are here and able to help families in whatever way they can.

“The impact is huge for any young girl that has an unplanned pregnancy and we’ve seen both sides of the coin,” Okerman Lyner said. “If she chooses to continue parenting we’ll hear that she was healthier, the child was healthier and that she was more prepared for parenting. If she chooses adoption we’ll hear that she felt her child would have more resources and be healthier. And depending on what the parents decide, continue to be loved by two families along the way.”