“House of Hope puts marriages back together, families back together, they put people back to work. They save lives,” former governor Philip Noel said at the House of Hope’s 25th Anniversary dinner Thursday. Noel was named the first ever Ambassador of Hope.
He talked about the countless people House of Hope helps and questioned how as a society we could continue to ignore the issue of homelessness.
He said, “It is un-American. We are the wealthiest country in the world and we have people living and dying on the streets. It’s not right.”
Noel mentioned that it is a shame that hardworking Americans, who lose their homes through no fault of their own, have nowhere to turn for help. He said that House of Hope is that chance, the opportunity to a better life. House of Hope doesn’t just house people, they find the cause for the particular homelessness and help people back on their feet for their individual predicament.
He asserted that donating to the House of Hope saves lives. After the dinner, Noel mentioned that the House of Hope is one of Rhode Island’s great success stories. Continuing his work with the House of Hope, Noel hopes to help the program expand past Warwick and past Rhode Island.
Noel said, “House of Hope does outstanding work. If people got to know what the program was doing they would be standing in line to help and donate money.”
Two hundred guests attended the dinner at Harbor Lights Marina and Country Club. Sixty-four thousand dollars was raised to help pay administrative costs that government grants do not cover.
Guests mingled outside and around the bar before sitting down for a three-course dinner and a moving presentation made by the House of Hope.
Before the award was given to Noel, the new logo and their commemorative book Stories of Hope, written by Brian Jones, were introduced. The book tells the stories of administrators and participants in the program, which are the most moving. The book explores the lives of Manny Gomes, who was crushingly injured when the dumpster he had been sleeping in was picked up by a garbage truck; Deborah Baker, whose father died at a young age and then experienced repeated sexual assault growing up; Marion Brooks, who after a divorce was evicted with her children from their home; and Carlton Freese, whose medical afflictions cost him his job and home. The book focuses on their newfound success thanks to the House of Hope Corporation.
Gomes is now called the “Mayor of Apponaug” because of all the help he does with landscaping and helping out neighbors. Baker serves on the House of Hope’s board of directors and volunteers at Harrington Hall and for many of House of Hope’s charity events.
Brooks’ two children are doing wonderfully; her son is soon to be a graduate of New England Institute of Technology and her daughter works at the Navy complex in Newport cleaning. Brooks herself now works at the University of Rhode Island. Freese had a successful heart transplant and is now sharing the story of his journey with others.
Before Noel took the stage, Jean Johnson, executive director, thanked her staff and sponsors, volunteers and those who donated for all their help in making House of Hope successful for the past 25 years. She especially thanked her daughter, Christine Foisy, who came to the House of Hope to work in 2003.
Miriam “Mim” Sloan was also thanked for her tireless fundraising efforts. When her name was called at dinner everyone began cheering and applauding. It was said, both at the dinner and in the new book, that, “Nobody says ‘no’ to Mim.”
It is estimated that Mim alone has helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for House of Hope and a good deal of the money raised for that night alone.
The dinner ended with a sendoff from master of ceremonies Gene Valecenti. Donations and opportunities to volunteer can be found on the website www.thehouseofhopecdc.org or by calling 463-3324 x231.