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Anonymous donor pays off House of Hope mortgage

By Angela Ward
Feb. 8, 2012 at 11 p.m.

A fire in the parking lot of the House of Hope was a cause for rejoicing, not concern, on Wednesday afternoon.

The small, carefully-controlled fire was the symbolic burning of the mortgage by the executive director and board members of the shelter for homeless women. The remaining $110,502.44 of the mortgage was paid off earlier this week by an anonymous donor, said Helen Johnson, executive director of the agency.

"We're excited, elated and relieved," Johnson said. "I've experienced a million different emotions since being informed of this extremely generous gesture."

Although no longer having a monthly mortgage payment will make it easier for the nonprofit agency to balance its books, she said it doesn't mean the agency doesn't still need donations.

"We've still got utility bills, grocery bills and all our other regular expenses," Johnson said. "But this is a brand new beginning that will allow us to move forward more quickly on some of our other projects, like a youth house and a new two-story shelter."

The shelter currently has 38 women. It will take children with their mothers on an emergency basis, but generally tries to limit their stays in the facility, she said.

"We offer shelter to any woman who needs it, regardless of what condition she may be in or what problems she has," Johnson said. "That makes it a bit problematic for us to have children living here on a regular basis."

Although Johnson was full of praise and gratitude for the anonymous donor, she was also quick to thank both God and the Longview community as a whole.

"God has really rained down blessings on us," Johnson said. "The overall support we've received from this community is unbelievably great."

Pam Jones, a former resident of the House of Hope who now lives in her own trailer, credited the agency with helping turn her life around.

"The people here helped me regain my confidence in myself," Jones said. "I learned a lot of valuable lessons while I was here."

Jones said she lived in the shelter for about eight months and moved out a few weeks ago.

Belinda Miller, a shelter resident who has been there about a month, said she was thrilled with the news of the donation.

"It's really an awesome thing," Miller said. "This is a good place and something that's very much needed. I'd be on the streets if it wasn't for the House of Hope."



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