New director driven by compassion
Du Vall leads Mission of Hope House in New London
By John Faucher
Heather Du Vall began her lifelong mission of service to others at a young age.
She now leads the Mission of Hope House in New London as its new executive director.
Du Vall earned her master’s of nonprofit management from Hamline University in 2017. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2014.
Throughout her education she served with numerous non-profit organizations such as The Ronald McDonald House, HealthEast Care System, Pay-It-Forward House, The Community Blood Center and the Catholic Foundation – Diocese of Green Bay.
Du Vall was hired to lead the Mission of Hope House in May.
“I’ve always had non-profit in my life ever since I was 10-years old and it just kind of stuck with me forever,” said Du Vall. “It feels natural to have that as part of my daily life.”
In 2003, her brother Bryan passed away from neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer that often affects children.
He passed away at the age of 7 after a three-year battle.
“My parents put together Bryan’s Angels, a non-profit to help children with cancer in the Green Bay area and it’s been running ever since,” said Du Vall.
Du Vall was born and raised in the Green Bay area.
She graduated high School from Notre Dame Academy where she met her husband.
The couple lived in Minnesota and Illinois before returning to their home state in 2020 right as the pandemic hit.
“We closed on our home in Appleton just before the Covid shutdown,” said Du Vall. “My husband had just finished up with his masters and we both wanted to move back closer to our families.”
Du Vall had been working as executive director at the Pay-It-Forward House in Sycamore, Illinois, when they decided to move back to Wisconsin.
In 2020 Du Vall and a friend started a non-profit called Harmony and Hounds that involves matching trained service dogs with people who need them. The group is also involved with volunteer therapy dog visits.
Volunteering as a hobby
“People always ask me what my hobbies are and I have such a hard time answering that because my hobbies are volunteering and doing non-profit work,” said Du Vall. “Nothing else kind of makes sense for my spare time besides giving of my time to others.”
Du Vall said she wasn’t really looking for a new job this past spring when her sister-in-law informed her about an opening at the Mission of Hope House in New London.
“She thought it would be a good fit for me and she shared the posting.”
“I told her I’m not really looking for a new job. I thought, I’ll just apply, talk to them and see what it’s all about. Then see if it’s something that I’m called to do,” explained Du Vall.
She met with the board and took a tour.
The more she learned, the more she could see the vision of the original founders, the board and volunteers at the Mission of Hope House.
“I just really felt pulled towards the mission,” said Du Vall.
The Mission of Hope House is a 21-bed shelter facility that offers immediate assistance to those who need shelter and food. The long term goal of the mission is to provide the personal and social skills necessary to help individuals and families move out of poverty.
MOHH also operates a thrift store and helps hundreds of people outside of shelter with furniture, bedding, winter clothing, hygiene supplies, transportation and referrals to social services and job openings.
“There was a need in the community and the founders were able to come up with this beautiful concept and being able to continue to grow off of that is something that I’m proud to be part of,” said Du Vall.
“I feel humbled by the decision of the board to allow me this time to be in the history of Mission of Hope House and continue the success of it.”
Du Vall has been busy getting to know the community and engaging with volunteers and residents at the mission for the past five months.
“The community in general has been tremendously supportive. Not just New London but surrounding communities as well,” said Du Vall. “It’s exciting to see what the future can hold for us.”
She hopes to continue building community connections and bring even more volunteers into the shelter to share their skills and interests with residents.
In addition to job and life skills programming, Mission of Hope House provides enrichment opportunities and supports for residents.
“People coming into shelters sometimes can feel really isolated and alone. If I can do anything while they are here, I want to make them feel like they have somebody in their corner who is here to support them and cheer them on in their success,” said Du Vall.
Another one of her goals is bringing in more community awareness and tours to the facility.
“There’s such a stereotype and stigma to poverty and homelessness, which is unfortunate, ‘’ Du Vall said.
“I think people are always pleasantly surprised with what they find when they actually tour a shelter,” said Du Vall. “This isn’t an industrial sterile environment. It’s a home.”
Du Vall said she doesn’t like to call it shelter.
“I refer to it as the house. Because this is the home before you get in your permanent home. This is the home that you have right now,” she said.
“It’s a place of comfort, a place of support. It’s a place where people can grow, find themselves again and find that confidence they need to work towards the future of what they want to be.”
Du Vall said she is humbled every day at work and she is thankful for the opportunity to be there.
“Not every story turns out perfect, but I still feel what we’re able to offer here is compassion and comfort, and it’s humbling,” said Du Vall. “That’s what gets me up every day in the morning to come to work.”