History of the Hope House
Through the years, the convent at St. Michael the Archangel had been a place where the poor and hungry could come for a sandwich and rest from the elements. In 1990 the nuns started to notice a trend, women were coming to the door. Some of the women came with their children. It was one of these women, who came for a sandwich and left behind the inspiration for Hope House. She was willing to tell her story to Sister Karen Elliot. Her name isn’t known but her impact continues today, over 20 years later. She and her two young children were sleeping in their car; they had no place to go. Sister, touched by this story, began to ask questions in the community. Were others seeing this trend of women with children seeking help? As she began to talk to people she discovered there was no place for a woman with children to find shelter.
From a core group of women, a call went out to about 30 Christian churches in the Findlay area. Many responded and were willing to participate in bringing a shelter to reality. ‘It was heart- warming and inspiring to see people respond with such generosity and pure intentions. The hand of God was at work.’ A local businessperson wrote a check for $25,000. Doctors, dentists, and a local optometrist all offered to help the women free of charge. Individuals came forward to work in the office and spend the night at the shelter so it could be staffed both day and night. At the time, the last two nuns were planning to depart from the convent at St. Michael’s parish and the church donated the space to be used as a shelter. The shelter is still at its original location. A lawyer worked tirelessly and patiently with the group to acquire 501c3 status.
From the beginning, the goal of Hope House was to help women break out of the cycle of poverty. Education, counseling, and living skills were incorporated into the program from its inception.
The group decided they would work to be ready to open by Thanksgiving and call the grand opening, “A Home for the Holidays”. Their efforts were successful and Hope House opened November 19, 1990. Ann Rudrauff headed the program when the shelter opened, followed by over twenty years of service from Sammie Rhoades. It was the Hancock County community’s support that first opened Hope House and that support continues to grow the Hope House mission.
Almost twenty five years later, Hope House is still a local agency running on the drive and commitment of community support and volunteers, from board members to office monitors. Hope House now consists of a continuum of services that have been created to help individuals and families maintain housing. Hope House offers 5 programs in addition to the shelter, with offices at the Family Center.
The six programs include the Housing Office, Independence program, Transitional Housing Shelter, Able Housing Program, SSI/SSDI Program, and Bridges Out of Poverty.