WILMINGTON — On Oct. 15, 2014 the doors opened on a new outreach ministry in Wilmington: Hope House.
Those doors opened at Crossroads Community Church. Crossroads has since merged with Faith Family Church, and Hope House moved to its current location at 260 W. Locust St. in June 2015.
However, that property, which was graciously provided by the homeowner, will be unavailable by the end of this year.
Hope House is now fundraising in an effort to buy its own property at 495 E Locust St. — a permanent home for welcoming in a fragile part of our population.
This would be Hope House’s first permanent facility, from which the board and volunteers hope to solidify their current ministry and expand in the future.
An anonymous donor has offered to cover the down payment to purchase a building, and 495 E. Locust St. — the current home of Door of Hope Church — was available.
Door of Hope Church is moving into the old home of Crossroads Community Church, where Hope House first began, which board member Rev. Dr. Tom Stephenson of First Christian Church calls a “holy serendipity.”
The down payment gift doesn’t fully cover what it would cost for Hope House to make this move, though. There are closing costs involved, and the board is also budgeting for the necessary expenses associated with moving.
To cover these expenditures, Hope House must raise $10,000 by Nov. 30.
This is a daunting amount of money, but Brad Reynolds, Hope House Board member and Executive Director of Ohio Living Cape May, said “I see financially supporting Hope House as an investment in Wilmington today and tomorrow. Providing love to needy women and children in our own community shows just how much we care for our friends and neighbors.”
Many in the community must agree with Reynolds, because as of Nov. 16, Hope House had raised 60 percent of this goal through GoFundMe and private donations.
Hope House is a nonprofit and donations are tax-deductible.
About the building, board member Julie Rudd, pastor at Wilmington Friends Meeting, said, “This wheelchair-accessible building would be perfect for us. It has a large open space for beds, bathrooms that can easily be equipped with showers, room for a washer/dryer set, space for an office, and lots of room for storage.”
What is Hope House?
Hope House is a low-barrier drop-in shelter for women and children, meaning that there are minimal rules guests have to follow in order to sleep indoors: don’t use drugs on the premises, don’t threaten or bully volunteers or other guests, don’t destroy property, etc.
Providing shelter to women who are currently using means that Hope House doesn’t qualify for many funding sources and must depend on the compassion of our community: churches, civic organizations, local businesses, and individuals who step up to support our most vulnerable neighbors. This support enables the director and the volunteers of Hope House to provide safe haven to women who aren’t served by traditional homeless shelters.
Patricia Thomas, Hope House volunteer, says that she is drawn to this ministry primarily because she cannot fathom the resourcefulness required for a woman to “ive rough.”
“The Hope House mission to provide a safe place for women speaks to a basic need of all of us — to shower, do laundry, then fellowship and sleep in safety for at least one night — to be received and known and accepted as a child of God,” she said. “As a volunteer I have the opportunity to provide hospitality of time, space, and love — a place to ‘do unto the least of these’ with an open heart.”
Hope House Executive Director Tracy Scalf, who took over from founder Tammy Beery in August, first felt called to volunteer at Hope House because her heart was broken by the thought of a woman staying outside or in an unsafe situation.
She was especially troubled by the thought of children being in those circumstances. She notes that the homeless population in Wilmington is much larger than many residents realize.
It’s a simple goal, but Scalf is inspired by the opportunity to keep a woman safe, clean, and warm for at least eight hours.
In the new facility, she’s looking forward to being able to house more women and working toward extending hours (especially in cold weather), serving meals, and offering small groups and Bible studies.
She wants to build stronger relationships with other community organizations and offer hope to discouraged women.
And, most of all, Scalf states it’s about “showing the unconditional love of Jesus.”
The women who come to Hope House don’t have anywhere safe to go. Having an experience of warmth and hospitality can be life-changing for them: first in giving them a safe place to rest, and second in practically showing that they are worthy of love and care.
Dr. Craig Strafford, Hope House Board member and physician who provides care to addicted people through Pinnacle Treatment Centers in Wilmington, said, “Hope House is tremendously valuable to the community. It’s the only place where a woman and her children can find shelter for the night, without restrictions or conditions.”
As the 2018 Westheimer Symposium at Wilmington College highlighted in their exhibit at the Quaker Heritage Center, more than half a million years of life were lost in Ohio over a seven-year period due to the opioid epidemic.
Since 2010, the rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in Ohio has tripled from 10 to 30 deaths per 100,000. In the same period, the number of heroin-related deaths increased from 355 to 1,478, and deaths related to synthetic opioids rose from 175 to 2,296.
In addition to caring for women who are homeless for opioid-related reasons, Hope House also cares for women who are fleeing domestic violence and women who become homeless for other reasons.
Hope House houses any children accompanying a woman, and works closely with the Clinton County Homeless Shelter to transfer women with children to their care. Some unaccompanied women also stay at Hope House until a bed is available at the Homeless Shelter.
Hope House staff estimate that it costs around $25 per night to house a woman at Hope House.
Costs are low because all the staff are volunteers, and because needs for food and resources are often met by contributors.
Since December of 2017, the ministry has served 34 women for varying lengths of time, and has had guests on the majority of those nights.
Hope House’s mission is to welcome, as Christ welcomed, those in need and to offer love, hope, and compassion within a Christian ethos to foster and facilitate a restoration of human dignity, self-respect and well-being.
They do this by offering clean beds, listening ears, and Christian care, in a clean, safe, chaos-free, supportive, non-judgmental environment for women and children to find genuine hospitality in their time of greatest need.
The staff and board believe a cup of hot coffee and friendship offered in a safe and loving space by a committed community can be the transformative beginning of a whole new life.
How to donate
If you would like to donate to this cause, you can do so through their GoFundMe at www.gofundme.com/a-home-for-hope-house or by sending a check to Hope House Treasurer, 1327 Ireland Rd., Wilmington OH 45177. Updates on the campaign are available on their Facebook page: facebook.com/WilmingtonHopeHouse. More information can be found at wilmingtonhopehouse.org.