Group Home Expansion Offers More For Troubled Teen Girls

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MERRIAM, Kan. -- A group home for teenage girls is about to get a half-million dollar expansion. House of Hope says the new life center will expand their services and allow them to help more troubled teen girls.

RELATED: House of Hope website

Teenagers who come to House of Hope are often struggling with normal teenage problems like rebellion, acting out -- and maybe some are dealing with sexual promiscuity or drug or alcohol abuse.

House of Hope broke ground Tuesday on the new "Life Center" that will include an art center, library, exercise room and larger space for Hope Academy, the school for girls living in the home.

Sixteen year-old Lizzie says Hope Academy helped her refocus on school instead of the conflicts in her life.

"I'm the only adopted out of four siblings," Lizzie said, "so that made me feel like I'm not apart of this family."

Lizzie says being here helped her better herself, she feels more confident and even feels closer to her family.

"It made me realize how much my parents do care about me," she said, "and how much time and effort they put into my adoption and opened my eyes completely."

Founder Marilyn Thomas said many girls just come here because of normal teenage problems. But some struggle with serious issues, major depression, or suicidal thoughts.

"Our whole mission is to restore the teenagers back to their families and the parents back to their children," she said.

One parent attending the ground breaking Tuesday is a believer in the program, because her daughter is a graduate. Her daughter came here when she was 16 years old, and filled with sadness and anger.

"After she came to House of Hope we found notes where she said she wanted to end her life," Kathy said, "so we really feel like this saved her life."

Kathy says here, her daughter could be free from distractions and focus her healing, her faith, and her studies.

"The light here at house of hope brought hope into her life and encouragement, which has allowed her to excel and move forward and go to college," said Kathy, "and we're very proud of her."

Thomas admits many of the girls start out not wanting to be here, but they leave transformed.

"The girls realize they are worth something and are created one of a kind, that they do have a purpose for their future," Thomas said.

The new center is expected to be open by Oct. 1.

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