Community, Creswell

Hope Restored builds more than houses

Hope Restored volunteer Penny Anderson rejoices with homeowner Ana Cruz as Cruz sees her renovated home for the first time during the third annual Hope Restored community project in 2018. File photo/The Creswell Chronicle

When Trisha Hern first saw her house after it was renovated by Hope Restored last year, she said she started to cry because it was so beautiful.
”It was exactly what I always wanted, but I was okay waiting for it and getting it when the time was right,” she said.
It was a difficult choice for Hern to apply for the Hope Restored program. She originally turned down the application, because even though her family wasn’t doing ”great” she said that her children never went without. But when the water heater broke, the single mother of three said she prayed on it before choosing to fill it out.
”I have a strong faith and if I needed something, God has always brought something or someone to me to help,” she said. ”I didn’t want to take from someone else in the community that might need it more. I was trusting (the committee) looked at everyone else and thought our situation needed help.”
The Hope Restored program has been renovating houses for community members in need for three years. Every year the program has refurbished at least two houses for deserving lower-income families. This weekend, Hope Restored is going into its fourth year and will be working on two houses in Riverwood Trailer Park in the span of Friday morning to Sunday evening.
The program brings out around 300 volunteers who are both skilled and unskilled laborers. The first year two houses were redone, the second year had three and the third year there were two and a roof. One of the founding members is Pastor Doug Allison, who describes the experience as a hurricane.
”It’s wild,” he said. He estimated that it t is around a $100,000 investment every year, counting the labor that is donated.
Each house has two contractors, Jeff Heater and Eugene LaRoe, and a series of captains who manage the indoor and outdoor teams, as well as a head of each specific project. Over the course of the weekend, the house is torn down to the sub floor and new flooring as well as sheet rock is put in, along with new roofing, painting, doors, windows and landscaping.
Allison said that the program started out of a need, and a passion for helping people. His church wanted to start volunteering in the community and with children, and after years of dedicating itself to the school district, Allison said the schools trusted them enough to do more.
Stevan Jackson, president of the program, said it’s meant to make the lives of the children easier.
”We do it for the kids,” he said. ”Adults are kind of in charge of their own fate, but the kids are stuck in whatever environment they’re going to be in.”
One of the biggest challenges with the project, is getting approval from housing managers or landlords. Jackson described the process as walking a tightrope, because many lower-income individuals don’t own their home, and they have to get permission from the landlord to go in and refurbish; there have been years when a need has been seen but a manager has said no.
”This year, the manager is really compliant and loves what we’re doing,” he said.
When Hern’s house was chosen to remodel, Allison said that it was a ”no-brainer.” She had a rough childhood through young adulthood, and was living in her grandmother’s old house that already had tremendous needs when she took it over. During Hern’s reveal, Allison recalled that she cried when she saw the kitchen and told him that she could now cook a meal all together because the appliances now worked.
”That’s what it’s about: refurbishing hope,” he said. ”When people don’t have hope; they just exist.”
Hern added that for people in situations like she was in, they are living moment to moment and it’s hard to see past that.
”It’s an incredible experience and has made my job so much easier,” she said.
Along with fixing everything that was broken, a memorial bench and plaque dedicated to Hern’s grandparents were put in the house. Her children had a custom triple bunk bed made for them to better utilize their space and the goats she inherited were fenced in the back half of the property.
”They didn’t judge my situation or my choices – they just made it easier,” she said. ”They made it so it works again and it was a safe place to come home to and have time together.”
Since her house was renovated by Hope Restored, Hern said that her life has improved. By not worrying about her house, she was able to focus on school. She has since been accepted into the registered nurse program at Lane Community College and can continue to make a better life for her and her family.
Although Hope Restored receives around 30 to 40 applications a year, Hern encouraged others to make the leap and apply.
”If the committee picks you, take it as a message from God or your higher power that it’s your turn to get some help,” she said.



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