- Fritzie Saintoiry
Don’t be afraid of change because it’s leading you to a New Beginning…
When I set out to find my new beginning, I felt the need for a fresh start – one that started with moving to a new state. I left Chicago with the vision that I would start Genesis Hopeful Haven in Florida. I knew exactly how I wanted the home to look. I viewed over 50 homes in Florida and only one home in the Redlands perfectly lined up with my vision. My Realtor said I wouldn’t find a home with a window in the garage – something I insisted on since my hope was to turn the garage into a fitness center. I needed my office to be away from the bedrooms and I wanted enough space for a therapy room. I needed the dining room to be separate from the living room and the GHH home was the only house I found without an open floor plan. We have half an acre of backyard space in which to fit a garden and playground area. To put it simply, exactly how I envisioned the home is how it came to fruition.
After finding the house, I really wanted to make it a home that catered specifically to the needs of at-risk children. Each room throughout the house has a theme of stars/celebrities who were once homeless. When you walk into Genesis Hopeful Haven, to the right you will see our study room (themed with Steve Jobs), where the children will be doing homework, life skills training workshops, and reading. Directly across from the study room is the formal dining room (Nelson Mandela). All meals will be served family-style in our dining room. We have picture frames on the walls so the children can place pictures of their families in the dining room. Staff will be required to share all meals with the children. Straight across from the front door entrance and to the right is the office (Malcolm X) and full bathroom (Alonso Mourning). The family room and kitchen (Dave Thomas) share an open space so that staff will be able to monitor the children while preparing meals. The children can play video games and watch educational/inspirational TV shows. Next to the kitchen is the laundry room (Michael Orr) and storage room, which will be locked, but will hold all medication, cleaning supplies and GHH storage.
Upstairs, we have the master bedroom (Superman) straight across from the stairway entrance. It has 4 beds and a bathroom with a large walk in closet. Next is a smaller bedroom (Batman) with two beds. Each room has a bookshelf, a small table to draw or do puzzles/activities on and beanbags used for relaxation. Across from the children’s bedroom, we have the staff bathroom (Eddie Murphy) and staff bedroom (Spider-Man). Upstairs we also have a therapy room, which, in addition to therapy sessions, will also be used to conduct family visits and will serve as our staff office.
Uprooting my life in Chicago, moving to another state and purchasing the perfect home was a huge change for me, but it was well worth my effort to start a new beginning. Starting over allowed me to make every decision with our future residents in mind. After all, the family-style home is one of the most important and unique attributes of Genesis Hopeful Haven.