House of Hope a dream no more

After substantial community effort, House of Hope will finally be living up to its name.

On April 10, the organization purchased a house at 316 Hazel St. to serve as a group home for women recovering from addiction or mental health issues.

“The house was paid for with generous donations from the community,” board member Kate Reed said on Monday.

Generous enough that the organization owns it outright and made the purchase without the help of public funds. All funding for House of Hope comes from community donations and fundraisers.

“People in the community are pledging to support us weekly, monthly. That’s really a big part of it,” Reed said of funding the ongoing costs to renovate and then maintain the house. “We’re looking at the community supporting us because we’re not getting any government funding.”

The site will eventually house Resident Director Dianne Sherman and approximately six women working on their recoveries, but first, the house needs some work.

According to Reed, anticipated work includes replacement of the furnace, hot water tank and roof; a bathroom upgrade; reconfiguration of several rooms and installation of a handicap accessible entrance. A low-end estimate for the renovations is more than $70,000.

“People in the community are really helping us in a lot of ways,” Reed said. “We have a lot of professionals in the community helping us make this a reality. People are coming up to us every day wanting to help.”

Reed and Sherman noted the organization has received professional architecture, attorney, surveyor and business aid.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes,” Reed noted.

House of Hope is planning an open house on Friday, April 26 from 6 until 8 p.m. so members of the community can see the interior of the house and learn about renovations. There will also be an opportunity for interested individuals to sign up to volunteer to help with renovations at the event as well.

The group has been more proactive around the site.

According to Reed, representatives of House of Hope went door-to-door in the neighborhood on Saturday, April 13.

“Some people were not available, but we answered questions and gave out a letter of introduction,” Reed said. “We tried to speak to everyone we could and they asked good questions. They were glad that we introduced ourselves.”

House of Hope board members said they wanted to reassure the community the site would maintain a positive environment.

“Undoubtedly you have heard that we are providing transitional housing for young women being released from Warren County Prison and other state correctional institutions in Pennsylvania,” board member Donna Adelgren said in a news release. “Our goal is to provide a safe, secure, loving environment for our girls to heal and grow. We give you our pledge that we will do our very best to always be good and responsible neighbors.”

“We’re trying to blend into the neighborhood,” Reed added. “We intend to maintain the integrity of the house and of the neighborhood. They’ll see Dianne around the house and know who she is. These girls are in recovery… so they’ve put themselves out there. You know what they’re not doing.”

House of Hope received 501(c)(3) non-profit status late last year and its activities, Sherman and Reed said, will continue to include more than just running the house.

The organization organizes drug and alcohol awareness programs featuring women who themselves are recovering from addiction.

Presentations are held regularly at Beaty-Warren Middle School as part of the seventh grade health curriculum, a presentation was held April 14 at Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church and a Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) event at Tidioute Community Charter School will feature a presentation on May 8.

“Hopefully, people will see one person can make a difference,” Reed said. “One person can help one person, and there you go.”

Organizations wishing to schedule a program are asked to contact Grace Zerbe Wright at 723-2084 or Sherman at 688-7802, or to visit the organization’s website at www.herhouseofhope.com.