Hope Harbor Surpasses Fundraising Goal, Moves Forward With Expansion


    After just seven months a local shelter has finished up its fundraising effort and is moving forward with renovations.

    It could eliminate a wait list Hope Harbor has had for nearly three years.

    For one of the women heading the shelter’s fundraising effort, the mission is personal.

    "I have family that has been touched by homelessness,” said Sherma Jones.

    Jones said, as a successful business person, that statement is sometimes met with shock.

    “Sometimes you can't even help your own family and so being able to help Hope Harbor is a way that I feel like I’m making a difference," she said.

    That difference was made in Crystal O'Rourke’s life. The Grand Island native is getting help from the shelter after her addiction nearly cost her everything.

    "My kids got their mom back. I've gotten my life back," said O’Rourke.

    More will get that opportunity after a $1.6 million fundraising campaign raised more than $1.7 million.

    "The community has stepped up like no other," said Jones.

    It'll allow for a kitchen renovation and a more accessible laundry room. That's on top of the renovation already planned for the former accounting office directly north of Hope Harbor.

    "That building is going to consist of offices and a donation room as well as our education room," said Hope Harbor Executive Director Aaron Ross.

    That will allow for nine more rooms with 32 more beds in the existing shelter. In the new building there will be more privacy and room for classes that teach skills like budgeting.

    "We'll be able to open that up to the near homeless population so, with hopes that if we can help them with that we can prevent them from having to come to our shelter down the road," said Ross.

    O'Rourke said she's still relearning those skills.

    "Somewhere along the line of that addiction I lost all of that capability to even know," she said.

    Staff say they’re grateful they’re getting help assisting people to get that knowledge back.

    "It's fantastic to be a part of a place that has this much support," said Ross.

    Ross said they’ll finalize floor plans and take bids soon.

    The new service center is expected to be done by April and renovations at the shelter should be complete by next fall.

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