Hope House teams up with HomeAid, Austin philanthropist | News

Hope House teams up with HomeAid, Austin philanthropist | News

Liberty Hill’s Hope House will soon have two new duplexes to house 16 more children thanks to a partnership with Austin-based nonprofit organization HomeAid and a substantial donation from Austin philanthropist Dick Rathgeber.

For more than 55 years, Hope House has provided forever care to children and adults with the most severe mental and physical disabilities.

Hope House was founded in 1967 by German immigrant Rose McGarrigle, who relocated to Austin and realized the great need locally for care for those with disabilities.

“Hope House started in Austin in Rose’s garage apartment,” said Erland Schulze, development director for Hope House. “She would drive all over Austin in her red Volkswagen bus and find disabled children to care for. She did this with no state or federal support. Long story short, people started taking an interest in what she was doing. In 1977, 11 acres of land was donated just outside Liberty Hill and that’s how we ended up here.”

Since then, Hope House has maintained a home on that original 11 acres, located about six miles down County Road 285, where children ranging from ages 5 to 17 are given around-the-clock care from people like Gutierrez. Duplex-style homes in downtown Liberty Hill serve the adults who are cared for by Hope House.

Now, with the promise of two new duplexes coming online in Liberty Hill, Hope House will be able to continue its original mission of providing forever homes to those with severe disabilities.

Schulze said he recently learned of HomeAid and knew the organization would be a good fit for Hope House’s goals.

“We gave them a tour and they just loved what we do here, so they have put together a project where they are going to get two homes built for us,” he said. “These two homes will be duplexes similar to the ones we have now.”

HomeAid is a local affiliate of a national organization called HomeAid America, which has 19 affiliates across the United States. The Austin affiliate has been in operation since 2018.

HomeAid’s first step in helping Hope House was offering a bus tour to local builders and suppliers so they could see Hope House in person and hear about its mission firsthand. Lynne Williams, executive director of HomeAid, said the organization’s main goal centers around housing people through construction, community engagement and education.

“We work with the building industry and the service providers, and basically bring them together so that we can build projects for at least 30, 50 or 100 percent reduction in cost,” she said. “We’ll ask providers to donate materials or labor for the projects, because construction is expensive. Most nonprofits are trying to raise money just to help their people, so we want them to be able to keep focusing on that mission while we help them build their house.”

Williams added that HomeAid’s goal is to get the two duplexes built for under $500,000 for both. Currently, the organization is looking for a builder captain to serve as general contractor on the project, as well as local builders and suppliers who want to donate labor and supplies.

“We plan to save Hope House well over 50 percent of the project costs,” Williams said. “Once we choose our builder captain, which we hope to do in the next couple of weeks, we’ll get site planning done and then hope to break ground on July 1. We’ll host an open house as well to bring contractors out to the site, because when they see the mission, I know they’ll want to sign on.”

Along with HomeAid on board to help secure builders at a reduced cost, Rathberger, a well-known Austin philanthropist, has donated enough money to construct both duplexes.

“He’s made the project possible,” Schulze said. “We’re so appreciative, because he’s done so much good in the community, and the fact that he realized the need we have here at Hope House is an honor. We are so blessed he is a part of this program.”

Rathberger told The Independent he’s very excited about the project, adding that he gets involved in projects like this based on return on invest, and this project has a high return on investment.

“The Bible tells us whatever you’ve done to least of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me,” he said. “It’s a real opportunity to be involved in this, and I’m not a spring chicken—I just turned 91. I’ve never found anybody who has figured out how to take your money with you. Plus, it’s more fun giving money away than making it anyway.”

For his impact to the project, Shulze said the duplexes will be named after Rathgeber and his wife, Sara.

Right now, Hope House has 38 residents. About six to eight applications are turned down a month for prospective residents, Schulze said, because Hope House just doesn’t have room.

“We can fill as many homes as we can build, so these two homes are going to be a big deal,” he said. “When we get new residents, they come to us as children and then we keep them as long as they need us.”

HomeAid will assist Hope House with other aspects of the project after the duplexes are built, like landscaping, fencing and more.

“Every time I see people’s faces when things are done and we’ve saved them money and they’re so grateful, I think, ‘This is a great mission,’” Williams said. “I’m really proud of the things HomeAid can accomplish.”

Both Schulze and Williams said there are also plenty of ways for the community to get involved through donations.

“We hope people in the community will see the value of giving, because the more people we have involved, the better,” Schulze said.

For more information or to get involved with the project, email Schulze at [email protected] or Williams at [email protected].

Read More