Home for the Holidays: A Reason for Thanksgiving

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11-13-14 Hope House 0036 picMichelle Mendez and her seven children will not be homeless this Christmas, thanks to Church on the Rise in Westlake.

Church on the Rise has joined with the City Mission and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to provide 20 homes for homeless families. They are looking for area churches to join them in this mission.

Michelle tells the story of how she did everything to try to please the man who became the father of her seven children while she lost a little bit of herself each day for 20 years dealing with verbal, mental and physical abuse.

She finally turned to Laura’s Home for help – a shelter for battered women located at 18120 Puritas Rd. Laura’s Home has been part of the City Mission since 2003 and shelters over 200 homeless women and children.

11-13-14 Hope House 0001 picCurrently at full capacity, the City Mission cannot meet the 30-70 daily requests for shelter. So Rich Trickel, CEO of the City Mission, asked Pastor Paul Endrei and Church On The Rise to initiate a new program in cooperation with them and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank to help the homeless.

“The goal was to be the first church of many that would buy a home from the Land Bank, raise the funds to renovate the home, and provide the volunteers, skilled and general laborers necessary to complete the project,” said Endrei. “We as a congregation would adopt a homeless family from Laura’s Home that would ultimately live in the home and break out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness.”

The Land Bank lowered the purchase price of the Hope House property from $15,000 to $1.00 once the church became involved.

“I was surprised how easy it was to raise money for this project in our congregation at Church On The Rise,” said Endrei. “This year we added the Hope House as a special project and raised well over $100,000 in pledges.”

“It amazes me how we had to work in shifts because we had too many volunteers to have everyone show up at one time,” added Endrei.

Laura’s Home selected the recipient homeless family, someone that would be considered “working poor” and could afford some basic costs in maintaining a home such as paying utilities, house insurance, and real estate taxes. Michelle will also pay the church a non-interest loan based on the roughly $23,000 of actual out-of-pocket expenses the church incurred.

“It is very important that the person selected to receive the home attends the church that is sponsoring the home,” added Endrei. “We do not just want to help people financially and emotionally, but most importantly, we want to help them spiritually. The vision is not to just give someone a “hand-out” but to give a “hand-up.”

If you or your church would like more information of how you may sponsor a Hope House, either as a church or as a Christian business, call Pete Bliss at (216) 431-3510 ext. 220 email pbliss@thecitymission.org or Pastor Paul Endrei at (440) 808-0200 ext. 211 email ppendrei@yahoo.com

Did You Know?

-The poverty rate in the city of Cleveland is currently 37%. This rate was 31.3% 10 years ago.

– 54% of children in Cleveland live in poverty.

-52% of household in Cuyahoga County report having to choose between buying food, paying utility bills or getting medical care.

– Almost 20,000 people in Cleveland are on a three-year waiting list to get into CMHA housing.

-There has been an unprecedented rise in family homelessness. According to the Cleveland Metro school district, there are four times as many homeless children now than there were in 2000. On any given night in Cleveland, there are over 2,400 homeless of all ages.

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