God pours out His blessings over The Hope Center’s multi-year improvement project
“My hope for this renovation is that the people who come to The Hope Center feel really loved and valued because they are,” says Cory Schiebel, Safety Manager at The Albert M. Higley Company, long-time BHITC volunteer at The Hope Center (THC) and renovation project manager. “Often, refugees and immigrants aren’t valued in their home countries. We hope they walk in and see that a lot of people came together for this renovation, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of labor and materials, to make sure they know their worth.”
Located in Cleveland’s West Park neighborhood, THC celebrated its sixth anniversary this year. This BHITC satellite location equips refugees and immigrants to live a life of abundance in a new country. It is a place that welcomes the stranger, takes them by the hand and helps them be a good neighbor, receive education, become part of the workforce and shows them their value. Yet, in recent years, staff and volunteers at THC realized the building they loved so much needed a significant transformation if it were going to reflect the same vision they held for these newcomers.
By now, many BHITC partners are aware a multi-year, buildingwide renovation and upgrade of THC is underway. In fact, it’s nearing completion, thanks to work only made possible because of the pandemic. As He always does, God uses everything – seemingly good and “bad” circumstances — and turns them into a surprisingly perfect plan.
Before the pandemic, THC regularly saw 250+ people a week through its doors. Since then, this number dropped dramatically and currently averages around 75 people per week, up from just 30 late in 2020. While this reality has sometimes felt like “bad news,” a renovation of this scale would not have been possible at typical attendance levels. Yet through God’s timing and provision, renovation efforts totaling $140,000+ worth of labor and materials moved forward in 2020 in ways only possible because of pandemic-related closures.
“The early planning of this renovation goes back to 2018, with many contractor commitments made in 2019 for future work, but no one predicted a pandemic!” says Mary McHugh, long-time supporter of BHITC and volunteer leading renovation efforts at THC. “Once it hit, we seriously doubted if such huge donations would be possible for our vendors. Yet not even one of them backed out! Every single contractor kept their commitment to us in the worst economic year any of us can remember. That’s how much they believe in this project!”
“To see the space in person and the team’s reaction to our donation, I knew I must be doing something important,” says Mike Caserio, Commercial Interior Floors. “I am asked to donate frequently, and this is the first time in 10 years I’ve really felt its impact on people’s lives.”
Throughout the pandemic, as contractor after contractor continued to bring teams of people to work in the building, THC’s staff and volunteers felt God’s presence. “God certainly didn’t quarantine in 2020. He stayed deeply involved with us,” says Mary.
By January of 2021, the flooring was almost complete. In April, new electrical work was done and new windows installed in the children’s areas. By the end of May, the café, THC’s central place for gathering, will be complete as well! As the building comes back to life and people come back to it after a tremendously difficult year, the gratitude of everyone involved runs deep.
“This project has been so much bigger than a renovation,” says Eileen Wilson, Director of Refugees and Immigrants for BHITC. “Our team is deeply grateful not only for the outcome of this renovation, but the journey of faith we all took together to get here. This has been God’s project. At times, it felt like it was taking longer than we hoped, but God is still 100% in control of this project. He’ll finish it when He’s done. We just need to adjust our timeline to His. Waiting has been the hardest thing.”
Keeping with BHITC’s theme for 2021 of ‘All Things New!,’ God is surely doing just that with this project as He makes new the building and all who enter – even contractors experiencing the transforming power of Jesus as they form relationships with young refugees.
Other members of the renovation’s core team include Lici Hoover, interior designer from Lici Hoover Interior Design, who chose everything from carpet to paint to even the trash cans and Greg Ernst, a friend of the organization and Vice President of AODK, Inc, who did architectural drawings at no cost to get permits without paying fees.
If you want to be a part of this life-changing renovation, you can give by contacting Sharon Schuldt, Development Manager at email@example.com.
Tremendous gratitude is due Gareth Vaughan, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Albert M. Higley Company and his staff team including Cory Schiebel, Safety Manager and Dan Wondolowski, Project Manager, along with the company’s arsenal of carpenters and partner vendors, who blessed and adopted the project from the beginning.
Special recognition is also due the following individuals, businesses and giving clubs for lead financial gifts along with extremely generous in-kind donations of goods and services to this project in 2019, 2020 and 2021 –
Chuck Anderson, Volunteer, Handyman
Jim Bichl, Volunteer, Handyman
George Boots, Director of Training at Finishing Trades Institute of the Ohio Region, IUPAT DC-6
Erin Brown, Partner, Brown Immigration Law
Scott Branstetter, Facilities and EHS Manager, Eaton Corporation
Michael Caserio, President/Owner, Commercial Interior Floors
Matthew & Deborah Crawford & Family
Chris Dombrowski, President, Legacy Electric
Greg Ernst, Vice President, AODK, Inc
Brian Exl, Vice President of Preconstruction, OCP Contractors
Bob Gross, Vice President, Summit Painting
Andrei Hogas, Carpenter
Julia Hoover, Graphic Designer
Lici Hoover, Owner, Lici Hoover Interior Design
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades – District Council 6 (IUPAT DC-6)
Joseph Kintyhtt, Painting Instructor at Finishing Trades Institute of the Ohio Region, IUPAT DC-6
Ken & Laurie Krauss
Christopher Kross, Sales Manager, Sherwin Williams
Legacy Collective Giving Club
Jim Lowe, Owner, JBL III Custom Kitchens LLC
Mark McDaniel, Manager of Operations, Pete and Pete Container Services, Inc.
Jonathan McKnight, Treasurer, Cleveland Vicon
Ron Miklus, Principal, Architectural Floors of CLE
Justin Oshel, Finishing Trades Instructor at Finishing Trades Institute of the Ohio Region, IUPAT DC-6
Adam Rupp, Best Supply
Trip Textoris, President, Architectural Interior Resources
John Webster, Director of Business Development, American Interiors
David Wondolowski, Executive Secretary, Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council
David Wood, Pro Services Specialist, Lowe’s Brooklyn location