By LOYD BRUMFIELD
Best Southwest/Grand Prairie/Oak Cliff editor
When Angie Hammond thought about starting a crisis pregnancy residence in Cedar Hill, she had lunch one day with Jim Hennesy, pastor of Trinity Church.
“Jim told her, ‘If you could have anything in the world that you could possibly want, what would it be?’ ” said Hennesy’s wife, Becky.
“Well, there is this big house I drive by every day,” Hammond said.
Not long after that, Trinity purchased the 14,719-square-foot mansion on Mount Lebanon Road, turned the deed over to a nonprofit, and now Hope Mansion — a faith-based residence for women dealing with troubled pregnancies — will open sometime in September.
“It really was God’s idea,” Hammond said, nearly two years after that lunch with the Hennesys.
The mansion, which previously served as a high-end events center for weddings and other special occasions, has been completely gutted and redone on the inside. The structure is largely empty now, although a sudden delivery of a commercial-size refrigerator and a matching freezer elicited shouts of joy from organizers.
When the first resident — a woman expected to be in her early 20s and fairly late into her pregnancy — moves in sometime in September she will find 14 bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, a library and conference room, grand dining hall, administrative offices, two aftercare rooms, an office for an unpaid intern, an elevator and housing for Hope’s “house parents.”
“These are mostly women who have no place to go, whether they have been kicked out by family or their birth father, they could be homeless or coming from prostitution,” Hammond said. “Normally, we’d take in women between seven weeks and 28 weeks, but the first resident will be later along than that.”
At startup, Keith and Donna Bobb-Semple will serve as house parents. The couple met in Louisiana while Keith was Operation Blessing coordinator for the religious television show, The 700 Club. “I am retired from secular work, and now I am in the full-time service of the Kingdom,” Keith Bobb-Semple said.
Hope Mansion will be one of only full-service residential homes in the state for women dealing with crisis pregnancies, Hammond said.
After the first resident checks in, others will move in on a gradual basis, she said. Hope Mansion will start slow, with 4 to 6 clients, but eventually will fill to capacity. “This place is too big not to use it all,” Keith said.
Each bedroom will house two women, who will share a Jill-and-Jill bathroom between each room. Clients must be between the ages of 18-28. Because of changes in state law, Hope Mansion won’t be licensed to house minors, said Hammond, who has spent 25 years ministering to pregnant young women who are struggling with difficult circumstances.
The Midlothian resident used to direct a maternity center in Duncanville that has since closed, as well as Elizabeth Home in Denton, a 6,300-square-foot structure that housed mostly minors.
The need is great, Hammond said. According to a study by Brigham Young University, nearly 4 percent of single, young pregnant women reported some degree of homelessness during their pregnancy.
In addition, they are usually unmarried, uninsured, less educated, less likely to breastfeed and have less access to prenatal care.
“I just kind of found myself in a fathering role, and that has blossomed into a calling of being a father figure, and being one in a non-abusive structure,” Keith Bobb-Semple said.
A typical day at Hope Mansion will be a busy one for clients and administrators. Each resident will wake up and make their own breakfast, take part in parenting classes and counseling sessions, attend worship services, make their own lunch, have some free time and then help everyone in the preparation of dinner and cleaning up afterward.
“We will eat dinner every evening together, as a family,” Hammond said.
Every resident will have access to a full array of parenting and financial management courses, as well as medical care through a coalition of medical providers, Keith Bobb-Semple said.
“The need is not just for housing, but to minister to the whole person holistically and spiritually,” he said.
The mansion originally went on the market for $1.6 million, but Trinity bargained the price to $1 million, Becky Hennesy said. Trinity then turned the home over to Transformation Vision, a Cedar Hill-based nonprofit coalition of churches, nonprofits and city leaders.
“We just knew Trinity could not do this very important job on its own,” Hennesy said. “We had to have support from the entire community, and they have really responded.”
In addition, about $600,000 in renovations was done for about $150,000, thanks to donations of money and material, she said.
“Many people have responded with giant gifts — furnishings, drapes and things like that, but our biggest need is financial,” Hammond said. “We own the house, but we also own a mortgage.”
Loyd Brumfield is the editor of Best Southwest/Grand Prairie/Oak Cliff neighborsgo and can be reached at 214-977-7686.
NEEDS: Annual expenses for one resident are estimated at $17,065 a year ($1,422 a month). Other needs include food and household items such as laundry detergent.
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