The Hope House: Kenosha church building home for families with special needs
A Kenosha church is taking some unusual steps to help a family in need.
Instead of raising money, or fixing up their home, they're taking it a step further: Building them a home from scratch.
It's called the "Hope House", and it's an idea that's years in the making.
Joe Snyder and Dustan Balkcom first met Mike and Megan Reuwer at Living Light Christian Church in Kenosha.
The Reuwers have 4 children, including 3 with special needs. With surgeries and medical bills piling up, an accessible home has been little more than a dream.
"When you spend time with these guys, it's just not difficult to see that the way they're living now is not working for them," says Snyder. "They make it work, but they need a better situation."
The Reuwers rent a two-story ranch from a family friend, leaving them unable to modify the home to be disability-friendly. That's when Snyder came up with a different idea, building them home from the ground up.
The group purchased a plot of land off 15th street in Kenosha, and began prepping the land for development.
"We're just elated at the process already," says Balkcom.
Mike Reuwer says doctors refer to the family as a medical mystery. Their first child was born without a skull and died within minutes of birth. Their second child Rowan is now 9, and perfectly healthy.
But their next 3 children, Phoenix, Penelope, and Genevieve, have all had various issues with spina bifida, or rare heart conditions. Two of the three are in wheelchairs.
"People will sometimes ask us would we do it differently, or take it away?" says Mike. "Obviously you want to take away the suffering, but us as a family, we're not who we are without that."
The Reuwers constantly carry the kids up and down the stairs, a task that's getting difficult as they age.
"It's just becoming harder and harder," says Mike. "There's no way for Phoenix or Genevieve to get in and out of the house independently, because there's steps everywhere."
Snyder says the Hope House will have wide hallways, counter-tops that go up and down, accessible bathrooms, and no stairs.
"He Kept a notebook of all the things we mentioned one day when we build a house," says Megan of Joe. "When he presented it to us he said I have non-negotiables that I want to build into your house, and I just started bawling."
The Reuwers won't be the only family to receive benefits from the house. Living Light Christian Church plans on paying all the costs of ownership and maintenance for years to come. If, and when, the Reuwers are able to move out, a new family in need will take over.
But first things first, the Reuwers are anxiously awaiting the home to be built.
"That's going to be such a special day, and we can't wait to share that with everybody," says Balkcom.
The group has already raised more than $100,000 for the home, and needs to raise more than $150,000 more to build the home they've envisioned.
If you'd like to help, you can get more information by clicking here.
The church is also looking for electricians and other skilled labors to lend a hand with the project.