For many years Hurst Elementary School was a vibrant neighborhood school. Families, students, and faculty have fond memories of school live at Hurst Elementary. Then as consolidation efforts began, Hurst Elementary School became vacant with select classrooms being used by the Volusia County School District for staff training. As the years have gone by, this once proud neighborhood symbol became a barren and fenced eyesore. Our commitment to the former students, teachers, and families involved at Hurst Elementary is that the statute at the front of the property will be preserved and maintained to honor those who formerly graced the halls of Hurst.
As Hurst Elementary School sat under-utilized, approximately 2300+ children in Volusia County schools had no bed in which to sleep and in some cases, no pillow on which to lay their head at night. With 27% of Volusia County children also living in poverty, the task of finding homes for these children and their family was bleak.
Local organizations such as Food Brings Hope and Halifax Urban Ministries were chipping away at the problem. Food Brings Hope delivers bags of food to school students in need in an effort to keep them from becoming homeless. Halifax Urban Ministries operates a smaller facility for families with children who are experiencing homelessness. However, this facility is crowded and not in an excellent neighborhood. People began talking; people began dreaming; and, most importantly, people began taking action.
The Volusia County School District sold Hurst Elementary School and its accompanying property to Volusia County. The Volusia County Commissioners after hearing from a powerful local advocate and philanthropist, Forough Hosseini, and many other supporters deeded the school to Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM). Along with the property was a grant for $3.5 million to refit the school for temporary housing for families with children and for unaccompanied youth who were in school. Thus Hope Place was born and has become a shining example of public and private collaboration.
Bringing the dream to a reality is still a work in progress. HUM enlisted the assistance of Mrs. Hosseini to bring other community leaders and builders to the table, as the Building Committee, to steer and ensure a successful build.
That’s our story and you can be part of this exciting project. Continue exploring this web site to find ways that you can participate and ensure that all our children are safe and secure every night in their own bed with their own pillow!