GREENFIELD — A familiar face has taken over as the new executive director at the Hancock Hope House.

Karen Newell started her first day as director of the county’s homeless shelter March 18.

She had been serving as program coordinator at the Hope House since Nov. 28, 2022.

“I’m excited about my new role,” said Newell, who has a passion for serving the homeless population. Her first experience was volunteering with an organization called The PourHouse based in downtown Indianapolis.

Karen Newall , executive director at the Hope House talks with Josie Esparza and her son Anthony Gilland, 10. Newell was recently named as the new executive director at the Hope House in Greenfield. Thursday, April 11, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter

The Hope House board found that her experience and dedication made her the best candidate to take over the executive director’s role after the previous director left for a different position in late December.

“I am fortunate to be starting my directorship from a very solid foundation,” said Newell, who hopes to expand in-house programming and staff development to increase the number of people the Hope House can serve.

As program coordinator Newell was responsible for completing new resident intakes, determining their immediate needs for services, referring them to community partners and monitoring their program progress.

“My role…involved networking with providers and educators to bring in services such as group and individual therapies, nutrition and cooking classes and career service advisors like Work One to give our residents the best possible chance at success,” she said.

According to its website, the vision for the Hope House is that every individual and family experiencing homelessness will have the opportunity to heal, learn and grow on a path toward self-sufficiency.

Its mission is to provide temporary housing as well as mentoring and empowerment to its clients so they can lead a more stable and productive life.

“We truly have an atmosphere of genuine care and collaboration with our residents to achieve their individual goals,” said Newell. “We have built a great network with community providers and other nonprofits to offer our residents the opportunity to thrive when they graduate from our program.”

The Hope House collaborates with therapists, support navigators and a number of organizations to lend support, including the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen, Work One, Firefly and The Landing’s Recovery Cafe.

Hope House was first formed more than 30 years ago when a group of concerned citizens came together with a mission to open Hancock County’s first homeless shelter, due to people living in the street, in their cars or other undesirable situations.

Newell considers it a privilege to serve those in need, and looks forward to expanding her ability to do so as the new executive director.

“As program coordinator, I learned how much I enjoyed being out there in the community sharing what we do at the Hope House,” she said. “From this position, I’ll be able to do that more often. I’ll be advocating for our residents in a new way.”

Hope House executive director Karen Newall looks over one of the lounge rooms made available for families. Thursday, April 11, 2024. Tom Russo | Daily Reporter