Community pitches in to provide students with pair of back-to-school homes

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Alyisse and Julio, members of the Boys Hope Girls Hope residential program attend the opening of their newly remodeled home. Behind them, Jesuit Father Edward Reese leads those in attendance in prayer. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Alyisse and Julio, members of the Boys Hope Girls Hope residential program attend the opening of their newly remodeled home. Behind them, Jesuit Father Edward Reese leads those in attendance in prayer. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

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Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona

Offers residential and community-based programs for academically capable and motivated students in need to meet their full potential

Info: www.bhghaz.org or (602) 266-4873

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[dropcap type=”3″]B[/dropcap]ackpack, supplies and clothing drives often equip students in need for the new school year.

A massive amount of corporate and civic groups pooled their resources to give 16 students what might be called a pair of back-to-school homes. Their makeovers were unveiled Aug. 6-7 as eight residents in each two-story home near Seventh Street and Camelback Road moved back in following a summer with their families.

The students belong to Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona’s residential program. They spend each school year in a community where, as academically capable and motivated young people, they’re challenged to reach their potential, maintain an active faith life and serve others.

The ministry, founded in the Midwest by a Jesuit priest in 1977, came to Phoenix some 25 years ago. The two-story homes were equally old. There were cracks in floors, termite-infested frames and such outside, windows and doors that didn’t effectively drown out the schools and neighborhoods that have grown up around them plus leaks.

Not anymore.

“It’s a little embarrassing, but as we were moving things in, we were thinking, ‘OK, this is nicer than our house,’” said John Eldean, who is going on his third year as chair of development for Boys Hope Girls of Arizona.

The homes have new furniture and mattresses, revamped study areas, and modern efficiencies throughout. The boys gained a second refrigerator in the kitchen and a properly enclosed recreation room.

The makeovers began when the board of directors initiated a soft remodel. It quickly ballooned into a larger project carrying the same deadline: a five-week window while the students were with their families for summer break.

There was plumbing and electrical work, flooring, paint, cabinets, fixtures, landscape improvements and various repairs. Many of the 60 or so vendors, trade companies and volunteers responsible for the transformation squeezed into the entryway and living room for the unveiling.

Jesuit Father Edward Reese, a board member and president of Brophy College Preparatory where some of the students attend, offered a short prayer and blessed the house.

The homes exude a more peaceful presence now. They’re no longer dark and dingy, according to others who helped with the transformation.

The boys immediately noticed the newness when they returned home Aug. 6.

“My response was, ‘Do I live here?’” said Roberto Huerta, a day before starting his sophomore year at St. Mary’s High School.

Housemate Julio Castro, a sophomore at Brophy, already envisions a different vibe for finals week. He commented on the organization of the study room and elsewhere.

“There’s more space so during final exam time when we all need our own space to study, it’s going to help a lot.”

The fraternity forged in the months between should strengthen too. Robson Resort Communities adopted the “Boys Hope” home covering all major improvements on both floors. The garage became an extreme makeover site shedding the garage look for a man cave. It now looks like the recreation room/gym it has been serving as for years.

That’s where both young men said they enjoy hanging out. Castro goes for video games and movies. Huerta exercises in and out of football season, plays pool and strums a few chords on his guitar. He hopes to start a praise and worship band at school.

Camelot Homes adopted the “Girls Hope” home and welcomed the young women Aug. 7. The girls relished their new furnishings, linens, dishes and other housewares.

“These young men and women are an inspiration to us all and we’re honored by the opportunity to create an environment that will continue to foster growth, learning and prosperity for current and future residents,” said Julie Hancock, managing director of Camelot Homes.

Amy Caffarello, executive director of Boys Hope Girls Hope, expressed gratitude for the generosity of so many groups.

“We are especially grateful for the care and concern they have taken to tailor the home improvements to the unique needs of our youth and busy, bustling homes,” Caffarello said. “The positive impact these improvements will have on our scholars and our organization is immeasurable.”

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