The Lord laid the vision to expand Hope Harbor into other communities on the heart of the
Board of Directors at an interesting time. We had just undergone some big changes in the
ministry, with a new Executive Director and transition into becoming our own private, individual organization. Really, Lord? Another home?
Prayerful consideration brought up southeastern Minnesota as an ideal location. There, teens from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin could be served. Hmmm…
Our Executive Director Cindy had recently attended a service at a church in Winona while visiting family enrolled at the university. She wondered if the Lead Pastor would have any input on whether the Winona area could use services like Hope Harbor, so she sent him a quick email to see what he thought.
The response from Pastor Brandon of Pleasant Valley Church in February of 2016 was
three letters with two punctuation marks: “YES!!”
Cindy and Pastor Brandon met shortly thereafter, and his question was, “What do we need to make this happen?” When Cindy replied that we need a house, she was met with, “We have one right here.” And Hope Harbor’s expansion into Winona officially began.
The expansion team, led by Hope Harbor Founder, former Executive Director, and now
Expansion Coordinator Claudia Stenson, got efforts underway. Every step was carefully
planned and directed through prayer. We prayed for meetings with individuals within the
Winona community who may be interested in getting involved in the expansion, and the Lord set up meetings. We prayed about how to share the ministry’s story, program and
need, and the Lord guided us into developing a Case Statement. As more people got
involved, we prayed for someone to coordinate in Winona, and the Lord sent two women,
Dorothy Ruppert and Joyce Rocco to volunteer their time as interim co-site directors.
An Advisory Board was formed and held their first meeting official meeting on October 25,
2016. Stephanie Orr agreed to chair the events committee and Hope Harbor held our first
fundraising event in Winona on November 17, 2016. Steve and Mary Baumgart answered the
call to coordinate with Stephanie and spearhead fundraising efforts. Since the team has come together, nearly $150,000 has been raised through personal contacts, events, raffles, and grants.
Hope Harbor began renting and renovating a house owned by Pleasant Valley Church.
Tammy Lozenski led the team that carefully and painstakingly installed egress windows, converted the garage into office space, remodeled the lower level, added new carpet, new
window treatments, furnishings, painting, and more. The remodel team truly made this
house a home where teens can heal.
In August of 2017 we hired Mary Meyer as Site Director and Kate Forkner as Teacher. Lael
Lemire began working as House Staff in Marshall in the fall of 2016 and later relocated back to Winona to head up House Staff duties and help train staff in Winona. As the fall months got underway, we were so very blessed as God not only sent us a Counselor in Erin Thompson, but a full team of House Staff as well! After continued prayer and rigorous training for staff, Hope Harbor’s Winona location officially opened in mid-October of 2017 and we placed our first resident just one week later!
The Lord is going to do an awesome work in Winona. He already is. Fruit is evident and
more is coming. We are continuing to field calls for placement, and are looking forward to
watching God fill the beds in the weeks and months ahead.
To say that are excited about this expansion into Winona is an understatement. We are thankful to the people listed above, and the countless more who we haven’t named, that have been instrumental in our start up. We are thankful for the businesses, organization, and churches that have supported this effort so far.
While Pleasant Valley Church has been very active in the groundwork, Hope Harbor is an interdenominational organization that is not affiliated with any specific denomination or church. We are partnering with many local churches and groups to get this home operational, and welcome any who have a heart to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to help teens overcome past hurts and become new creations in Christ Jesus. Thank you for joining us on this journey!