THE SHIAWASSEE HOMELESS Coalition presented the House of Hope in Durand with a “Building Hope” award on Tuesday, Nov. 12. Presenting the award for the Homeless Coalition was Becky Zemla, Penny Corbin and Rachel Burdette. Accepting the award were House of Hope organizers Pastor Lisa Lahring, of The Crossing Free Methodist Church; Pastor Don White and his wife Debbie, from the Light of Faith Fellowship; and John and Dena Woolpert. The award was presented at the House of Hope, a short-term, emergency homeless shelter that will soon house an individual or family in need.
As part of their ongoing partnership to address local homelessness, the group set out on its mission to create a homeless shelter in Durand early this year. Now, after months of fundraising and renovations, and with the help of supportive community members, The Crossing’s former parsonage has been transformed into the House of Hope. An initial inspection has been completed, so the group will begin seeking a tenant once they have satisfied inspection requirements.
The House of Hope was inspired by John Woolpert, who turned his life around after meeting Pastor Lisa in 2017. Woolpert was homeless when he met Pastor Lisa; his situation brought on by a medical issue and exacerbated by delays in receiving disability benefits. First, John lost his home, so he lived in his truck. After he could no longer afford his truck, John was left with no roof over his head and nowhere to turn, until Pastor Lisa helped him work through his issues and get back on his feet.
Two years after that fortuitous meeting, John accepted the Building Hope award from the Homeless Coalition. Shown with John is (from left) Dena Woolpert, Pastor Don, Pastor Lisa, Debbie White and Becky Zemla.
The award was inscribed with the following acknowledgment: “In appreciation for supporting the community through recognition of need, assessment of situation and building hope.”
(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)