“So God created man as His imager,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
Donnalee, the founder of Hope House, was orphaned and abused as a child. As she grew up, she promised God that if it were in her power, she would do everything she could to provide a home for children of any ethnicity who were in similar situations.
In 1973, she received her license for five children, and today they are licensed for 40 children. Her “kids” have every color skin and variety of personalities, but each has been abandoned for one reason or another. In some cases, they were simply discarded as not wanted.
When we arrived, we were given a list of projects that needed to be completed by the SOWER volunteers. After the first two weeks, we had pretty much completed the list and had found a few more things that needed to be repaired. One of those was the benches in the “Memorial Rose Garden.”
We try to accomplish our work as economically as possible, repurposing materials if we can. After the huge Barn Sale two weeks ago, there were parts of furniture that had not sold. Things like just a headboard, or parts of a bunk bed, or even a single board.
What many, including me, didn’t know was that good hardwood is often used along edges or in various parts of furniture. We scoured through the burn pile and found pieces of oak, walnut, cedar, and pine. Using table and chop saws, Bruce cut these discarded pieces of wood into the boards needed to repair the benches.
The benches’ iron framework needed to be wire brushed and cleaned up. But after that, and a few cans of flat black spray paint, the iron pieces looked like new. Most of the screws, bolts, nuts, and washers could be reused. We only had to replace a few of those. Since there were not enough of the same boards to have them all match, we aimed for an eclectic look and mixed up the different wood.
These benches now are a powerful reminder of the blending of the ethnicities of the children and staff who live here. They are a reminder that:
- God takes all different types and colors and puts us together to create a beautiful, purposeful whole family.
- God uses the stronger alongside the weaker.
- He sometimes redirects or repurposes things (like us) that have had one function for a different purpose.
- There can be beauty even in that which is discarded (beauty from the potential ashes of the burn pile.)
Donnalee stopped by as Katie and I were finishing up and sat down to look at her beloved roses (there are over 100 rose bushes scattered throughout the property) and recall the special memories of things that happened at this favorite spot. She is in such awe at how God continues to work in her and her family’s lives that she can’t help but share stories of His provision at almost every chance meeting. This quiet Rose Garden has once again become a place of reflection for her and the children here.