Organizers of Mt. Hope Sanctuary received a big surprise on Jan. 17 — a surprise so big that the non-profit will be able to breathe a little easier as they continue to serve women in the community.

That day, Celeste Carlson of the McPherson County Community Foundation presented a $50,000 donation to Mt. Hope Sanctuary from a donor-advised fund. The donation will be used to maintain daily operations.

“It was out of the blue. When Celeste came over, little Da’Zayah was imitating what we all did when we put our hands to our mouths and started tearing up. It was such a confirmation that we’re doing what God wants us to do,” said Julie Holloway, executive director of Mt. Hope Sanctuary. “It was such a blessing to us as a ministry.”

Mt. Hope Sanctuary, Inc. is a non-profit, Christian ministry in McPherson that provides transitional housing, tools and support services to single women and their children. 

“The purpose is for women to become self-sufficient again. For whatever reason they find themselves homeless — abandonment, divorce, addiction — and they’re not able to live on their own and we’re here to help them become self-sufficient and back with their children, if they have children. There’s no maximum time, as long as they’re working on their goals and following the rules, they’re welcome to stay,” Holloway said.

Though an incredible gift, the need at Mt. Hope is continuous.

“We still have to keep the lights on and the heat or air conditioning going. It doesn’t matter how many residents we have here, we still have to maintain staff, electricity and everything. It’s an ongoing need. We have a Partners in Hope program where we’re trying to get more people donating on a monthly basis to cover our monthly operating expenses,” Holloway said.

In addition to daily needs, Holloway hopes that additional donations will help out with space.

“We also have a waiting list of other applicants waiting to come in. We won’t be able to bring someone else in for another few weeks. We are currently pretty full, our house has nine people living here currently. Two women and seven children between the ages of 1 and 9, so the house is very lively right now,” Holloway said.

The most recent donation will go toward basic needs so Mt. Hope Sanctuary can dream of future expansions.

“We have one home now, and someday we’d like to add to that and have another location, possibly serving as a transition from our program to back on their own. We have some women come live here for some time and they’re ready to move on out of the accountability, but they’re not quite ready to be completely on their own. It would be wonderful to offer another transition where they have more freedom and control, but they’re still under the Mt. Hope umbrella so we can work with them if needed,” Holloway said. “That way if they still need help with food, but don’t need the same level of accountability at the house, that location could fill that need. We’ve had that vision but we haven’t had the stability to make that come true. Once we’re doing well here, we might look into that later.”

Mt. Hope’s mission focuses on repairing lives of women by coming alongside them. The non-profit offers its residents resources, such as financial management tools, education opportunities, parenting tools and more. 

“We’re not a homeless shelter. We’re a transitional home that women can apply to, and once they’ve completed the application process, we hold an interview to make sure that she’s a good fit for our program. From there, we bring her in if we have room and they’ll engage in a plan of hope. We want to help them attain these goals and then we have a little graduation and home blessing,” Holloway said. “It’s free, and that’s why we need so much support. We pay for everything. We take in donations of even the little things like shampoo and toothpaste. The only thing we ask them to help with is to contribute 5 percent of their take-home pay to the food budget. And that’s only if they have a job, if they don’t have money coming in then we won’t try to collect it.”

Once women graduate from the program, they benefit the McPherson community through their own contributions.

“They’re not longer receiving government assistance, they have their debt paid off. We’re putting these women back out in the community in hopes that they will contribute back to the community and they don’t need to use community resources anymore,” Holloway said.

Mt. Hope Sanctuary will host their fundraiser, the bi-annual Taco Tuesday, in April.

For more information, visit http://www.mthopesanctuary.org

Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at news@mcphersonsentinel.com.