Saturday, October 5, 2013
Nearly four years after Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church opened Hope House, a hospital hospitality house whose mission is to provide a Christ-centered, safe, secure, temporary home-away-from-home for individuals in need, has succeeded beyond expectations. The house is located at 314 Hibben Street next to the historic church in the Old Village and serves adults (18 and over), who have a loved one in a Charleston area hospital.
The church purchased the property in November 2000, and the initial plan was to raze the house to create additional parking. However, the church was notified the property and house were protected by the Old Village Historic District Commission, so a new plan needed to be developed. Since the dedication of Hope House in January 2010, more than 500 families have been hosted, and occupancy rates have been over 90 percent.
However, there was another issue to be addressed. The three bedrooms at Hope House were all upstairs. People with physical challenges could not get to the bedrooms. So, what to do? There was another building on the property sitting just behind the house used as a storage shed.
Impressed by recent painting of the shed and thinking it looked good enough to live in, George Warren, Hope House Ministry team member, asked, “What about turning the storage shed into an accessible apartment for those folks we’ve had to turn away because they were unable to maneuver the stairs at Hope House?” And, the idea for Hope Cottage was born. This new addition will provide a fourth bedroom for guests with special needs, designed with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) - equipped features.
Enter the volunteers and donors. Name it: project management, architectural, electrical, carpentry, plumbing, landscaping - it all came together. With final approval for occupancy on Aug. 23, Hope Cottage was ready for guests. It happened with several “God Winks” along the way including the shed having exactly, to the inch, the amount of space needed to accommodate two guests. (God Winks is a term adopted by the Hope House Ministry team several years ago for those many times in this project when something unexpected happens, and it’s God saying all is okay.)
Reflecting on the expansion of this outreach ministry, John Hage, MPPC Associate Minister for Missions, said, “I have seen God’s spirit at work through the Hope House Ministry Team, MPPC and this community. I continue to be amazed by how God can take an ordinary house and make it a place of healing and hope. The Hope Cottage continues and expands that outreach. It is a place, which welcomes the stranger and provides a sanctuary to those in need. I am so proud of this church and I am thankful to be part of this ministry.”
The day Hope Cottage was approved for occupancy, a social worker from the Medical University of South Carolina called with a “special need.” A young mother, admitted with complications following childbirth, and her husband and newborn had plans to move to another state. Their home had been sold; the young father and infant did not have a place to live, and the mother would continue to be in the hospital for some time. The social worker was hoping Hope House might help.
Since guests must be 18 or older in the house, Hope Cottage was the perfect place for the first “special needs” guest, a two-week-old baby and her father. Once again, it seemed the team was receiving a “God Wink” message; this wonderful, peaceful cottage was there for anyone with a “special need” unable to be accommodated at Hope House.
On Sept. 15 the new Hope Cottage was dedicated with the benediction and blessing after the final service of the morning. As Beth Moore, director of Hope House, said, “God continues leading us to do great things with this outreach ministry. This property was to become a parking lot, but now the “lot” is a “House called Hope.”
For more information about Hope House and Hope Cottage, please contact Beth Moore, Hope House director, at 532-4892.
Jan and Doug Hart are members of Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church.