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Families quickly fill up Hope Place

Construction of homeless shelter in Daytona Beach recently completed

By Nikki Ross

nikki.ross@news-jrnl.com

DAYTONA BEACH — Chanrell Lassiter stood at the front of the room holding a microphone in her hand. Tears slowly fell down her cheeks as she thanked the room full of public officials and donors celebrating the completion of Hope Place.

“I'm now in my own home with my children,” said Lassiter, 31, a single mother of seven. “I appreciate everything this home has done for me and my family.”

Lassiter was one of three residents who told their story at the The Hope Place Building Committee's final meeting Tuesday, where they announced completion of the homeless shelter for families, built from what was once Hurst Elementary School.

“This is the official handing over of the key,” said Forough Hosseini, founder of Food Brings Hope and a driving force behind Hope Place. “As a community, Volusia County should be so proud of this.”

Hope Place is owned and operated by Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM). The shelter is an expansion and improvement of the nonprofit agency's former family shelter located off Ridgewood Avenue in Daytona Beach.

“I'm delighted to stand in front of you,” Hosseini said. “We started here in 2012 and now we are here so many years later thanks to so many people.”

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Community members donated $420,593.55 of materials and labor to get Hope Place up and running. This allowed over a quarter of a million dollars to be transferred into the Hope Place endowment fund. The Volusia County Council has approved $3.5 million toward the facility's construction and operation.

As part of the celebration, Hosseini presented HUM Chairwoman Anne Evans with a $50,000 check to add to the fund.

“This is a faith-based ministry,” said Evans. “So I just want to thank God and everyone who helped.”

In an interview before the meeting, Hosseini said Evans and former County Manager Jim Dinneen were key in making Hope Place a success.

Hosseini first got involved with helping local homeless children in Volusia County schools in 2003, and in recent years she said she was spending about 40 hours a week helping those struggling with their most basic needs.

She sees the culmination of her hard work with Hope Place up and running now.

“I promise you this will change our community,” she said.

“We will have fewer homeless adults because of Hope Place. We've got to bring people hope and make sure they keep their dignity.

“We're going to do amazing things.”

Hosseini said people outside the area want to learn how Hope Place became a reality, and in the next month or two officials with the Florida Chamber of Commerce want to tour the new shelter off Derbyshire Road a few blocks north of LPGA Boulevard.

When Lassiter moved into Hope Place at the end of June construction was still underway in parts of the building, which began housing families in March.

After just 35 days in the shelter, Lassiter got her GED, is in college, has a job and is applying for her preschool teaching license.

“They have pushed me everyday to get back to self sufficiency,” Lassiter said. “In the next months I will be in permanent housing.”

Lassiter's is one of 13 families Hope Place has already helped get back on their feet and into housing of their own. The shelter offers permanent supporting housing, transitional housing and an emergency shelter.

“Last year I got full custody of my daughter, but I lost everything in the process,” said Brian McMurray, 55, who lived for a time in his car with his 7-year-old daughter.

“There were things happening where not getting her wasn't an option.”

McMurray is now a student at Daytona State College and over the summer has worked more than one job to save up money.

“I was a single father of three boys and I missed 90 percent of their childhood because I worked two to four jobs all the time,” McMurray said.

“I want to be there for my daughter.”

Hope Place offers amenities that help families including child care, outdoor space for children to play, a library, playrooms, security fencing, free laundry and communal bathrooms with showers.

“At the other (HUM) shelter I saw so many homeless families and children,” Hosseini said. “It was concerning to me the area around the shelter was not safe for children.”

Hope Place board members hope to serve 144 families in their emergency housing by the end of the year.

“I see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said McMurray. “I am not going to give up.”

Those who would like to donate to Hope Place can call (386) 317-5879, send emails to Shannon@ HalifaxUrbanMinistries. org or log onto halifaxurbanministries. org. Staff writer Eileen Zaffiro-Kean contributed to this report

“This is a faith-based ministry. So I just want to thank God and everyone who helped.”

Anne Evans, board chair of Halifax Urban Ministries

Forough Hosseini gives Anne Evans, board chair of Halifax Urban Ministries, a check for $50,000 to go toward the Hope Place endowment fund. Hosseini is founder of Food Brings Hope and a driving force behind Hope Place. [NEWS-JOURNAL/NIKKI ROSS]

Brandy Espinose, Chantrell Lassiter and Brian McMurray tell their stories of how Hope Place has helped them and their families.

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