20th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION: Hope Unlimited for Children

Whew!  The big event that’s been Waiting To Happen for over a year is now almost 48 hours in the past, and Renaissance Man and I are taking this week to drive cross-country from California’s Bay Area back home to the mountains of East Tennessee.  We feel the quickly-changing Fall leaves calling us home for a day of porch-sitting and cool temperatures…
Before I share this photo-intensive post with you, I want to thank everyone who prayed for us as we planned, prepared for, and carried out our responsibilities.  Some of you even left comments or sent private emails or texts that encouraged us more than you can possibly know.  Let me assure you that your prayers were answered and that you participated in an important way in helping us tell the 20-year-long story of Hope Unlimited for Children … and got us off to a fantastic start for the next leg of the journey.  We ask God to richly bless you for lifting us up in prayer — even as I pray you will continue to lift up the children we serve.


My sweet Renaissance Man made the trip from Tennessee to California with the entire exhibit packed tightly in the back of a pick-up — arriving a couple of days before “show time.”  I finished last-minutes at home and flew out to meet him.
The event took place in the magnificent 8,000 square foot Redwood Hall at CuriOdyssey – a museum in San Mateo, CA — 6,000 square feet filled with a visual re-telling of the organization’s story.  Here’s the empty “before.”

Set-up began last Thursday.  As you can probably imagine, it took quite awhile just to unload, but we were blessed with four dedicated helpers:  my sister and brother-in-law from Texas, Hope’s graphic designer from Tennessee, and Hope’s U.S. Office Manager from California.





Finally, everything was unloaded, unwrapped, and set in the proper places.
Then Renaissance Man showed the young 20-something designer how to access the catwalk above the hall’s 20-foot ceiling — and how to drop and tie the lines necessary for hanging the exhibit.  I suspect he was thankful his days of being the “young-un” who got that dusty, cramped job were in his past!

I’m glad he didn’t know then that the day ahead was going to be a hard one … that some of our “best laid plans” would have to be changed several times … that we would leave at the mandatory 5 pm when the museum closed — with not nearly enough accomplished and a major “what are we going to do if Plan C doesn’t work tomorrow” hanging over our heads …

But the day of the event dawned early with a beautiful sunrise over San Francisco Bay … and we felt the hand of God going before us all day long as we accomplished much in a shorter-than-expected amount of time with the help of two special people:  Hope’s Chairman of the Board and his wife, Mimi, whose beautiful gardens I shared with you HERE.

The Celebration began at 6 pm, but when guests began arriving at 5:30, the “before” had successfully transformed to “after”…



These photos are “broad stroke” overviews.  I’ll take you on a close-up tour in a minute …



Upon entering the lowest level, guests saw Hope’s mission statement:

Level One took the first part of the mission statement…

and presented the hard-to-grasp facts…


We then “set the stage” to show the realities in Brazil 20 years ago … before Hope arrived.


And the verses that weighed heavy on the minds and hearts of people who cared enough to listen…

Three men who decided to do something — anything — to help the street children of Brazil.

With God’s help — and the gifts of time, talent, and treasure from many people through the years — many hundreds of young lives have been touched by Hope.
So why don’t you follow me up to Level Two where we look at Hope’s model of care … and the second component of our mission statement.


There are four primary areas of emphasis for our residential students…
Many times, Hope is the first real family our kids have ever known.  The first time they’ve sat down at a table.  The first time someone has showed them how to play with a toy.  They are so proud of the first possessions they’ve ever had of their own — so their closets are amazingly neat and tidy.  In fact, houseparents tell us that a messy closet is the first sign that a child is struggling…

Whether it’s truly “play” like this sweet little one or sports, musical instruments, or field trips, making happy memories for the children is a major part of the Hope model.

In the words of one of Hope’s founders…
Imagine growing up with no happy memories, nothing to fall back on during difficult times.  That is the life of a street child.  When we take our kids to camp, when they play video games at the mall, when they score a goal on the soccer field, they are creating memories to sustain them during the challenges that life will bring them.
No matter what age a child is when they arrive at Hope, we do our best to help them get at least an 8th grade education — higher than the national average.  Our kids are modeled such a good work ethic that they are very “in demand” and guaranteed to have a job upon graduation.

Sometimes taking a child out of a bad situation, giving them a safe place to live and food to sustain them, allowing them to be a child — often for the first time in their life — and teaching them life skills is not enough.  Sometimes it is only by the grace of God that they are able to move forward to a bright future.

If you’re still with me, let’s make our way to Level Three where we can truly see the results of Hope.

Graduates who have embraced their futures…

… many of them choosing to start families … now with the tools to care for and nurture their own children, breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse, and neglect that they themselves once knew.

Many forming a Graduate Church in their community, reaching out to those around them to offer Hope.

Giving back to those who helped them … so they can help the next generation.

A preschool we now run for 470 children ages 18 months – 5 years … teaching their parents the importance of nurture and education … attempting to keep these kids OFF of the streets.


And then there’s the current initiative weighing heavy on the minds and hearts of Hope’s board and staff…
How to best adapt our model of transformational care to working with children currently incarcerated in Brazil.  14,000 children …  many of them much like the ones we already serve but whose fight to survive on the streets was met by even graver consequences.

And so you can pray for wisdom for those making decisions.  As you can imagine, there are some very difficult issues to address … but we believe God will provide the answers as we step out in faith.

And here you have it … in a nutshell.

Lives transformed … my very favorite “before” and “after.”
Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. (Psalm 115:1)
I’m glad you stopped by today to join in the celebration of 20 years of Hope!  If you’ve been touched by any part of the ministry’s story, I hope you’ll help me spread the word.  There are several of us always available to speak to churches, universities, civic groups — any organization desiring to know more about street children, at-mortal-risk children, or sexually trafficked children.  Your prayers, your interest, and your donations — large and small — make a huge difference!  Perhaps you’ll even put the children of Brazil on your family’s Christmas list…

I’ll be linking to Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch and
Inspiration Friday at At the Picket Fence.
Have a great week — and stop back by Thursday for a little tablescape from this event!
To learn more about Hope Unlimited for Children, just click this link. You can also search this blog for Hope Unlimited to see more posts.


  1. The most important Metamorphosis we all viewed this Monday is the one you just shared… metamorphosised lives. Thank you for all you did and are doing, we all owe you a deep sense of gratitude. Blessings to you in Tennessee! Mindi

  2. Wow is way too weak a word for 1) what you physically created in that space, and 2) for the mission of this project. Bless you for your hard work. I can’t imagine how you were able to stop by and comment on my post–thank you.

  3. Susan….I don’t even know what to say. “Bravo!” seems so trite in comparison to the enormity of what you and your wonderful husband with the help of your “angels” accomplished. For your husband to make that solo trip cross-country with all that packed in the back of a pick-up truck was nothing short of a blessing and the sign of a VERY good man who loves you with ALL his heart. Congratulations on a job very well done. Get home and get some well-deserved rest, girl!

  4. I am speechless and in tears. I am so proud of the work you all are doing, Susan. God bless you!
    This was phenomenal.



  5. I just loved every picture and every word. By the time I got to the graduate church and saw the wedding photo and the family photo and read what they are doing to continue the grow the seed planted inside of them, well, I literally did feel a warmth creep over me. THAT is the way it is designed to be. I love it.

    I did pray for you, and I am so proud of God for how He showed up.
    That God of mine makes me proud on a regular basis.

    It has taken a while for me to get back here since we’re in the middle of revival week at our church, and with my sleep disorder, I am completely turned around these days. It even makes it hard to enjoy the revival to be honest.

    What an utter joy to share this.

  6. Thank you isn’t a big enough word to say in light of your mission. How wonderful to hear the success stories, how sad to know that there are many children still out there. God blesses those that please Him, and I am sure your heart and your husband’s heart pleases him beyond our grasp! xo marlis

  7. Oh Susan. Every time I read about Hope Unlimited and the life changing work they are doing I am challenged to work even harder at finding ways that I can provide hope to a child in someway, somewhere! This was such a powerful and beautiful celebration of 20 years of life changing, soul transforming work! Blessings to you and your husband for all you do! We shared the celebration as part of our Simply Sunday post today.