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Conversation with Kimberly Snapp

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 11:25 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, April 7, 2014, at 10:13 a.m.

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Editor's note: An earlier version of this story was incorrect about where Kimberly Snapp works part time.

Kimberly Snapp knew at a young age she wanted to be a physician. During a mission conference she attended while in medical school, Snapp realized she wanted to put her faith to work as well.

She’s been able to do both.

As founder of House of Hope Wichita, Snapp’s goal is to help troubled teens and families.

“The restoring of lives that happens here is stronger than any prescription I’ll ever write,” Snapp said.

House of Hope Wichita, located at 1650 S. Georgetown, offers counseling to children and adults along with prayer ministry, financial coaching and parenting classes.

“We want to change Wichita one family at a time,” Snapp said.

It focuses on helping teens, focusing on teens who are angry, rebellious, depressed, suicidal, abusing drugs or alcohol or otherwise making wrong choices.

“We walk with them on a journey they can’t do alone,” Snapp said.

Snapp’s long-term goal is to develop a residential center for teens, starting with boys ages 13 to 17, where they could receive counseling, prayer ministry and healing. Parents would be involved as well. That will take funding.

“We want to teach (teens) a good American work ethic,” Snapp said. “Plow the ground. Plant the seeds. Water it and harvest your food. Teach them that sweat equity. ... It’s what America was built off of. ... If you want something, work hard for it, and you’ll get there and you’ll get it.”

The House of Hope is funded through private donations. Clients pay for services on a sliding scale.

So far, it’s helped 144 families. Since 2005, it’s received $671,784 from donations and programs, including $175,627 last year.

Besides Snapp, it employs a full-time counselor, a volunteer counselor, two student counselors and a financial coach.

Snapp grew up in Andover and graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield, She then went to the University of Kansas Medical School and specialized in internal medicine.

She jokes that instead of becoming a wealthy doctor, she became a missionary doctor.

Snap joined World Impact and worked in its clinic for 14 years.

“When you’re a physician and living off of $10,000 a year, the rest of the world knows you’re insane,” she said. “I really loved it. I have a real pioneer spirit.”

Patients there would sometimes tell her they couldn’t afford to go to the hospital.

“There were times I had to say, ‘You can’t afford not to,’” she said. “Other times, I would say, ‘Take your blood sugar and call me in four hours.’”

And she would monitor them closely to see whether they could avoid the hospital.

Eventually, she joined Via Christi Wound and Skin Clinic, doing wound care. She continues to work there part time.

Snapp caught the vision for the House of Hope through its national organization, based in Orlando, after hearing testimony from a teen who had been helped.

She told herself, “OK. I’ll go back home and try to figure out what it means to start a House of Hope in Wichita.”

It was incorporated in 2005.

In her spare time, she loves to be with her family, and she likes to read.

Getting parents involved with their children is key. How so?

Parenting is like being a guardrail. It’s not about being your kid’s friend. It’s about keeping them safe. ... It’s teaching how to teach your child how to stay on the path called Life and not making bad decisions.

Change is difficult. You mentioned that people fall away from the program for two reasons. What are they?

Sometimes they just don’t want to address the underlying emotional issues that come up. Sometimes they feel so much relief (early on), they fall away (before they’re ready.) Change is hard work. But hopefully when you walk along with people, it gets easier. We can have people fall off, and we know that their family has changed.

You want to grow House of Hope Wichita quickly, but the reality is that growth is slow.

Everybody wants to grow like a hockey stick. If you’re small and you want to be big, (that kind of growth) is not sustainable. You just have to slowly, steadily grow. You want it. You see the kids. You see the need, and you can’t make it happen. ... My one goal is to have House of Hope Wichita to be the premier place for the healing of troubled teens and their families.

Your teen leadership program will help teens find their place in life. The curriculum is in place, but you need additional funding to launch it. How will it help?

When you help kids identify their passion, what you were created for, what’s the difference that only you can make in the world, it helps. Scripturally, God ordained good works in advance. There’s a “to do” list that’s yours. There are so many people who don’t believe they can make a difference, that they have a calling. No. You have a purpose. Let’s help you identify that and help you identify what it’s going to take to get to that purpose. The persona of the world is so negative, it’s kind of overwhelming to kids. You have to help them navigate the minefield of life. ... Here’s why we endure this thing called the world, because you really can make a difference in it. That’s what’s exciting.

What’s one thing not many people know about you?

I took flying lessons in college (and earned a private pilot’s license in a two-seat Tomahawk.) That was very fun. I love to get lost. ... One of my most exhilarating moments was being lost in the air with a map. It was incredibly fun. ... The best thing about getting lost is you find new things.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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