With help, Hope House finds breathing room

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

When Hope House signed on to be a participating organization in the first-ever Liberty Hill Day of Giving last year, they didn’t really know what to expect.

When the donations stopped coming in, not only were they $6,300 better off than before, but gained something that to this day Development Director Erland Schulze says is invaluable. The exposure, and bringing the mission and message out to the public more has done as much good for Hope House as anything.

“When you all let us come out to the Chamber of Commerce meeting and present our program – even there we found people who didn’t know we are here – but that group of people left that meeting and knew about us and I think that’s where most of the money came from,” Shulze said. “That’s been the huge issue we’ve had,” Schulze said. “We’ve been here so long, but people don’t know about us.”

As part of the Day of Giving, Smokey Mo’s BBQ pledged a portion of sales from the day to Hope House. Schulze, in his appreciation for the pledge, wanted to make sure they knew what the donation was for and he invited owner Morris Melchor out for a tour.

At the end of the tour, Melchor wrote a check for $3,000 to cover the cost of the initial project, a new storage building.

“We were so pleased with the drive,” he said. “We have these drives and don’t really get much out of them, so we just hoped to get something out of this, then to have Morris (Melchor) come up – and he would not have known about us if it hadn’t been for (The Independent) – he was so touched that it just put the icing on the cake for us.”

A storage building may not seem so important when it comes to taking care of the 32-36 residents living in the three homes across Liberty Hill, but it opened a lot of opportunity.

“That Day of Giving was a lifesaver,” said Jared Sudekum. “We needed that building worse than you know. We just don’t have space.”

With a full house at each location and many storage needs, it was the perfect solution to the crowded spaces.

“The advantage of the storage building is we have no storage space in the houses,” Schulze said. “There’s really no place to put a lot of the linens and a lot of the household goods. That’s been a huge asset and meant a lot for us to store so much equipment.”

Thanks to the unexpectedly large amount of money raised, Hope House was also able to meet another critical need.

“We were also able to get a new dryer and new washing machine with that money as well,” Schulze said. “This makes a world of difference because they don’t last us more than a year or two because we use them almost every day.”

The increased exposure has helped Hope House put together a number of other projects, recently completing the renovation of chicken coups in the back yard and raised garden beds for the residents.

“The residents really enjoy it, watching the birds, feeding the birds, collecting the eggs,” Sudekum said. “Everything we have for programs are something the residents can get involved in.”

Next on the drawing board is a new deck, compliments of Rockpointe Church, which recently raised more than $13,000. The church plans to bring out a crew of volunteers to build a covered deck for the back yard.

In addition to funds, the organization is always in need of volunteers to take on projects with the homes or even to just spend time with residents.

“Our staff not only can’t do a lot of these projects, but they can’t spend as much time with all of these residents one-on-one like we’d like to,” Schulze said. “People come out sometimes and just play with the kids, even play with the adults, and that’s huge for us. All these projects, all of these little things, those are just the people in the community that come out and help us build those things.”

Having both the money and helping hands is equally important.

“It is definitely a combination of monetary donations and volunteer hours,” Sudekum said. “If you don’t put them together you can’t get anything done because sometimes I’ll have the money and not have the people.”

Hope House is now in three homes, the newest called Mike’s House was opened in 2017.

“The two duplexes in town are our adults, we call them our senior citizens,” Schulze said. “Almost all, except for four, who live in these houses were children when they came to Hope House in 1967.”

In the children’s home, there are usually between 15 and 20 residents.

“We are kind of over capacity there,” Schulze said. “They are ages five and up and the state doesn’t have a place for them to go. We’ve seen situations where if we can’t take them they have to live in the offices of state agencies. There just aren’t enough places like this. This is the only one in the state of Texas that is for long-term placements.”

These residents would otherwise be in that system and shuffled around because they take so much time, care and energy.

“None of our residents can speak and all of them have to have care for everything,” Schulze said. “Toiletry, bathing, eating, clothing, it is everything.”

The labor of love that is Hope House is focused on providing the quality care, but knows the best care comes from a community effort.

“We are so grateful for this, and we want people to understand and recognize what they’ve done for us,” Sudekum said. “The problem for us outside of the volunteers and the donations is the networking, and that is the only way we are able to do any of this.”

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