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A most holy house

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By Ken Begley

But the angel said to them, “Fear not. I bring you tidings of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Luke, Chapter 2, Verse 10 and 11

 

When God sends us help, he’s always chosen to do it the same way.  It’s by sending someone just like you or me.  He did it with Abraham, he did it with Moses, he did it with David, and most of all he did it with his only son, Jesus Christ.

 That’s why all life is precious.  We must treat all human beings as potential messengers from God.

If that’s the case, then the most holy of holy places are those where human life is protected, as God would want it.

In my own mind, that would make The House of Hope in Springfield a holy place, indeed. It’s a pregnancy help and woman’s outreach center.  Their mission in life is to prevent abortions by our daughters, granddaughters, friends, and relatives.  It’s executive director, Sheila Hourigan, and the rest of the people running this organization, are literally on a mission for God.

If you stop by 108 Progress Ave., Suite B, you’ll see a couple of rooms that are jammed packed with everything related to pregnancy and babies that you can imagine.  But they do much more than just hand out clothes and give a few words of encouragement.  Oh no, don’t make that mistake. They’re about much, much more.

Let me tell you about it.

Sheila Hourigan is a mother and grandmother.  In fact she will soon have her 16th grandchild.  She first became aware of the House of Hope from Sandy Lawson, who thought up the idea of opening it in 1999.  At the time, Sheila was homebound, taking care of her mother-in-law who was in a coma, and her father-in-law, who suffered from Alzheimer’s.  Yet she was stirred by Sandy’s idea and wanted to help.

Sheila volunteered to do the paperwork for the organization.  She helped to get it incorporated as a tax-deductible charity with the Internal Revenue Service, among other things.  Later, after her in-laws died in 2001, she ran the organization until 2004.  Sheila and her husband then moved to Alabama for work.  Her husband later suffered a heart attack and is now retired. They moved back to Washington County this year and live in Springfield.  

She was approached by the House of Hope and asked to run the organization again.

I can see why.  She may be a grandmother, but she’s a fireball of energy. Her zeal and dedication to the cause is of a true believer.  

But what does the House of Hope do?

Sheila deals with everybody from 15-year-old girls to married women.  She helps them from A to Z.  That might mean helping a frightened teenaged girl to get a pregnancy test to holding a young woman’s hand while she gives birth because no else is there.

It means getting a pregnant mother the proper health care for herself and her baby.  It means educating them on parenting and finances.  It means finding them shelter from an abusive boyfriend or husband.  Frequently court-ordered classes for parenting are also done by the House of Hope.

Sheila will take young women and teach them their rights and what they need to know during this frightening time.  Equally important, Sheila teaches them their responsibilities to themselves and their child.  They also counsel women that may have had an abortion and are suffering from the consequences.

Sheila is interconnected with  state, federal, charitable organizations, and local churches weaving them all into a support network encouraging the mother-to-be to know that she is not alone or uncared for.  This support continues after the child is born.

She also wants to bring a program to our school system teaching sexual abstinence before marriage and the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.  She works in coordination with programs to prevent teen use of alcohol and drugs, which is where many pregnancies originate from.  In the future she wants to bring in a program for young men teaching them their responsibilities under the law when it comes to pregnancies.

So how many people does the House of Hope help out?  They had 153 visits in the past six months.  

This organization does so much and operates on a literal shoestring.  Their biggest fundraiser to date, the Annual Walk-A-Thon for Life at the park, raised $8,000.  There are other organizations supporting them.  The Wednesday Morning Quilting Club at the Extension Office donates quilts for raffles.  I saw Christmas gifts from The Johnson Chapel AME Zion Church in Springfield for clients this past December.  Many other churches and individuals also support them.

Sheila seemed like such an energetic and upbeat person that I had to ask her one question. “Do you ever get down?”

She said, “Yes.” but she also said the benefits to this job are so much more than meets the eye.  Then she told me a story.  

She recently visited a grade school.  She was walking through a room that was filled with children aged about six or seven.  Several of the kids hollered out “Miss Sheila” and ran up to hug her.  Sheila said she lives for those hugs.

I wonder. How many of those kids might not be here if we weren’t fortunate to have the House of Hope?  That’s a terrifying thought, isn’t it?

I ask you to consider helping out the House of Hope with a tax-free donation.  Also, there are 50 churches in Washington County.  There should be 50 churches helping to sponsor this organization.  Please check with your pastor or minister to see if this is so.  Again, these are our daughters, granddaughters, relatives, and friends.  They belong to us.  We can do no less.

Finally, I want to end this by saying one thing.  We should never judge any woman on the issue of abortion.  Let’s leave that to God.  

But I do know this.  We will be judged harshly if we do nothing to help these future mothers.

I also believe if a woman accepts the life bestowed upon her, then she will be in Heaven long before me.  She will be most blessed by God Almighty with his infinite mercy and love.  

How do I know?

Because it’s in the Book.

(Writer’s Note:  Please contact Mrs. Sheila Hourigan, Executive Director at House of Hope, 108 Progress Street, Suite B, P.O. Box 222, Springfield, KY  40069, Phone (859) 336-0140 or (859) 805-0746, Email houseofhope@earthlink.net for help or inquires.)