Special thanks to all the private donors, churches, community organizations, and businesses who have sponsored Hope House of Central Illinois and made it possible for us to purchase the land where Hope House will be built! We have officially purchased seven acres of land south of Taylorville (two miles west of Lakeshore Golf Course). We especially thank the sellers who helped us find the perfect place to help grieving families for many years to come.
We look forward to continuing to make plans and break ground in God’s timing. We’ll kick off our capital campaign soon. Stay connected with us here and on Facebook. We continue to appreciate your prayers.
written by Michael St. Louis, Hope House of Central Illinois Board President
I remember walking in the winter woods as a youth. The bright shining sun reflecting off of the snow covered boughs and ground, not a breath of air moving, all created a surreal atmosphere. One could say it was a “wonderland.” Time stood still; distance and direction seemed to float away. Your progress was only traceable by looking backwards to see the footprints in the snow. There may be a straight path or maybe meandering, but you know where you have been. Or maybe you tracked you child’s growth on a door or wall in your home. Either way, you are marking progress by looking back.
Much is the same with Hope House. We have been very focused on growing and now it is time to look back to see how far we have come.
As a completely new, unestablished non-profit, I believe we have made great progress in the past 6 months.
- presented our vision to over 400 people
- presented to 10 different community organizations
- collected 80% of our down payment for land
- received support from over 100 wonderful donors
- received committed support for 2018 from 2 organizations
- spoken with and comforted 3 families after their loss
So what is next? That is a great question I hope to answer. There is more to the wall or door to continue to mark growth, just as there is always more forest to explore.
We are presently:
- forming a capital committee
- negotiating the purchase price of land
- applying for local grants
- scheduling presentations to more area churches and organizations
- working toward more long-term funding for sustainability
Of all the great things Hope House has already accomplished, it has only been possible by the generosity and support of so many private individuals and businesses. The hard work of everybody involved has led to extraordinary results. We are not there yet. However, I am confident that as we continue down this road, we will exceed our goals. The many families experiencing loss will be able to find refuge with us because of your support.
Thank you all,
Hope House of Central Illinois
by Teresa St. Louis
We tried for 20 years to have our children. Finally, at the age of 40, we had the opportunity to do IVF. With much encouragement from dear friends and financial decisions that most financial advisers wouldn’t recommend, we moved forward. We, in hope, believed and on our second attempt with IVF, we became pregnant with our twins Samuel and Selah. The pregnancy was going smoothly even though I felt sick most of the time. Then suddenly at 23 1/2 weeks, my water broke in the middle of the night. Our babies were born the next day, January 23, 2013.
It was a painful three days of life for Samuel and eight days for Selah in the NICU. It was also painful for us to see that their brief life was filled with so much agony. And the guilt I felt because I failed to carry them and protect them like a mother does was heart-wrenching.
We and many others from around the country from what I heard were praying for them, praying for a miracle. To overcome all the obstacles of a micro preemie and grow up and live a full life. But we didn’t get our miracle…
Or so we thought.
The days passed after their death, after the visitation and funeral. Life settled back into our new normal of being a mother and a father but no evidence of it except the pile of baby gifts from our church family baby shower just three days before they were born.
God began to show me that we did get our miracle. He answers our many years of prayer for children. He gave us Samuel and Selah, brief as it was. Their lives were the miracle.
I read in Beth Moore’s Living Beyond Yourself Bible study: “If only we would release God from our preconceived notions of what a miracle should be. Our eyes would be opened to so much more! All it takes to behold a miracle is seeing God do something only He can do.”
Well, only God could allow this aged womb to carry two babies for 23 1/2 weeks and still give them life for three and eight days. To touch many lives in that brief time. And fill our hearts with love like we never knew before.
Thank you, God. That’s what I call a miracle.
Randy Thompson wrote and shared this at the Hope House kick-off dinner in April 2017.
Years ago, in the days of your youth, did you have bold dreams? I did. I wanted to be a race car driver and win the Indianapolis 500. Oh, the glory that would be mine. Sadly, my Dad wasn’t overly supportive. He told me to hitch up the disk to his Allis Chalmers tractor and race it across the fields. And I did. I spent several race days sitting on that tractor tilling our good southern Indiana family farm ground, listening to the 500 race on the radio. The tractor averaged about 4 MPH, but I have a fertile imagination and could see the track, hear the scream of the race cars, and envision the spectacle of the 250,000 fans lucky enough to be there. I could feel the thrill of side by side racing and of just beating out my hero AJ Foyt to the finish line by mere inches. Maybe your bold dream was to play in the World Series for the St. Louis Cardinals, or to be a singer adored by all the world, or even to be president. Most of us had childish dreams that never materialized, but I hope that doesn’t stop you from dreaming boldly. Perhaps life’s experiences have tempered but, I pray, not trampled your dreams. You have been invited here tonight so that three couples, bonded by common tragedy, can share their big bold dream with you.
Your hosts tonight are Mike and Teresa St. Louis, Jon and Monica Wamsley, and I am Randy Thompson and Gina is my wife. We are bonded in friendship, but also in the agony of loss of a child. Our situations were each different. Mike and Teresa lost twin babies, Samuel and Selah, born prematurely and living only a few days. Jon and Monica lost Lucy, born early, only to live a few hours. Gina and I lost Dan who lived 25 years. Our common response to the loss of our children was of hopelessness. That and doubt. What did I do wrong? Could I have prevented this? Is God punishing me for past sins?
Our three families have mourned our losses in solitude, with each other, and with friends and family. Good support has proven essential for a healthy recovery. Our pain has diminished but will never go away, nor should it. As for myself, I constantly wrestle with one basic question: How can I turn the awful tragedy of losing my son into something good? We have a dream. We call the dream Hope House. Like my childish dream of winning the Indianapolis 500, this is a big dream. But that dream was self-centered. Hope House is about helping others. Hope House is about helping families who have experienced the loss of a child to find hope again. Sometimes the Hope House dream seems too big, perhaps even impossible. And it would be if it were only our dream. But we three couples believe in a big powerful God that can do anything through His people. Please allow us to share our bold dream with you.
Click here to access the videos and other information presented at the Hope House kick-off dinner.