By Paul Seman
The Catholic Weekly
SAGINAW — When Mark Ivon entered the homes of Emmaus House during a recent inspection, he could see that the women were proud of their “castles.” Everything was neat and in its place.
However, Ivon noticed that the homes, all 40 to 116 years old, needed to be updated and remodeled. One home still has a square hot water heater (which still works). Another has yellow bathroom fixtures.
Even “Homes of Hope” show their age.
Ivon is the deputy grand knight of Knights of Columbus Council 4232 in Saginaw Township. The council was the first of many organizations which have “adopted” one of the 12 homes. As part of Emmaus’ “Homes of Hope” initiative, the Knights will do the much-needed repairs, remodeling and updating.
Since the Knights council, the largest in the Diocese of Saginaw and one of the largest in the state, has thrown its support toward Homes of Hope, a number of organizations have also embraced the project, including the Church of Latter Day Saints, Growing Years Day Care, Saginaw Firefighters Local 102, St. Helen’s Men’s Prayer Group and Spence Brothers Construction. The Giving Back Task Force of the Saginaw Community Foundation has volunteered to landscape all of the homes. In addition, a number of individuals also have adopted homes, including Ray and Karen Bartels and Charles and Mary Warzecha.
According to Carolyn Maksimowicz, chairperson for the project, a number of churches and credit unions will hopefully be making the commitment later this month.
Ivon and the Knights hope to begin work by the end of the month. Other groups will begin work at different times.
Emmaus’ Homes of Hope remodel and renovation initiative will run for the next two to three years, said Maksimowicz.
“We hope that our renewing efforts not only will increase the longevity of our homes and add to our guests’ comfort,” she said, “but also will instill in our guests a sense of pride and ownership, as well as the awareness that a lot of good people care about them.”
But more help is needed.
“We are looking for donations to purchase materials to place in the hands of our volunteers,” Maksimowicz said. “The gift of time, talents and prayers are also needed.” Adding a little bit from a large number, she said, will help complete the project.
Emmaus House, established in 1987, is a home for women, especially those coming from jail, prison or rehab. Its purpose is to provide the women a family-like, Christian atmosphere while they are creating new lives.
Currently, 42 women call Emmaus home. Nearly 800 women have been served since its inception. A woman’s average stay is eight to nine months; the longest stay has been six years.
As Mother’s Day approaches, the Emmaus House is asking individuals or groups to consider a memorial in memory of a mother or beloved woman. To support the project, or more information, contact Maksimowicz at (989) 799-9282 or at email@example.com, or Sr. Marietta Fritz at (989) 755-7538, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.