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Sweet Home’s HOPE facility to showcase improvements in open house

By Benny Westcott
Of The New Era/Lebanon Local

The HOPE Center in the former First Baptist Church at 12th and Kalmia streets reopened its doors in early 2022 following a pandemic-imposed two-year hiatus, welcoming clients and visitors with a host of changes.

Its first floor got a fresh coat of paint, with new flooring in the common room, bathroom and offices. New main doors were installed.

“All of the doors were rotting and rusting,” board member Jeff Young said.

New doors were added.

The sprinkler system was updated, and a previously inoperable firm alarm was fixed. The interior of the center’s adjacent house was painted, and its floors were cleaned. Other new items included a donated stove and dishwasher, plus a replaced water heater.

Now the center, which offers lodging, counseling and other assistance to victims of domestic abuse and other issues and currently houses seven women and two children, is hosting an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, to show off its improvements.

The event features tours of the facility, plus video testimony and light refreshments.

According to Young, the center is holding the open house “to celebrate the one-year anniversary of being reopened. And we also want the community to know what their money is doing.”

He explained why the organization made improvements when it did.

“We just felt that before we reopened after COVID, we needed to do some of these things,” he said. “But in the meantime, we wanted to be helping the community as much as possible. So we did the things that were necessary to move people in, and we’ve been working on the rest ever since.”

Funding assistance is needed for coming projects. These include bringing an outside concrete ramp up to code and redoing the steps to the sanctuary at the front of the building. Young said that the HOPE Center board also hopes to install a privacy fence to keep residents safe.

The HOPE Center, established by Sharon Pryor and Esther Bennett in 1990, is funded entirely by donations.

The bathrooms were updated.

Young said the center can take up to seven adults and three kids, and three or four people are currently on its waitlist. Potential clients can contact the center at (541) 367-HOPE. Many are often referred by police officers, churches and such emergency services as SHEM and Manna.

“I think probably the police department is where most of the referrals come from, but I remember at least one referral came from Samaritan’s medical office here in town,” he said.

He added that an interview process follows calls.

“We can’t just bring them in,” he said. “There is an interview and then the decision is made if we can help the person or not.”

There are program fees the women are required to cover, but sources are available if they cannot pay.

Anyone interested in donating to or volunteering at the HOPE Center can contact Pastor George Medellin of Turning Point Church at (206) 419-1019 or leave a message at (541) 367-HOPE. Checks or money orders can be sent to Hope Center, P.O. Box 351, Sweet Home, OR 97386.