10 November 2009

Program restores more than cars

Corey was a 15-year-old who was hanging out with the wrong crowd. His parents didn’t know what to do, so they enrolled him at the House of Hope, a boarding school ministry in Traverse City, Michigan, that reconciles troubled teens with their families.

“His life was a shipwreck,” says House of Hope President Harry Round. “His relationship with his parents was broken.”

But when Corey got his hands on a 1978 CJ 7 Jeep in the House of Hope’s automotive restoration program, his life began to turn around. “The act of working with his hands and seeing something restored that was beaten up, abused and neglected became a corollary with his life,” Round explains.

Not only did Corey repair his life through fixing up the Jeep, but he discovered a passion for auto restoration. “He was a natural mechanic,” Round says. “He took very quickly to it.” After Corey graduated from the House of Hope, he purchased a 1967 Blazer and completely restored it himself.

Now Corey’s working in an automotive shop in Kansas City, Missouri. His salary from the shop pays his tuition for ministry school. And he’s engaged to be married.

Corey is one of more than 100 students who have found meaning through the automotive restoration program at the House of Hope. “This program has touched 115 students—and the Collectors Foundation has been a part of that,” says Round.

The Collectors Foundation awarded $5,000 to the House of Hope in 2005 to purchase tools. Before that, Round had to bring his own tools from home. The grant allowed the House of Hope to purchase two full sets of mechanic’s tools, a drill press, welder, air compressor, band saw – even new seats for the Jeep.

A year later, the Collectors Foundation awarded the House of Hope another $7,500 to help build a new automotive restoration center. The tools were a big start — but the program was still being run in an unheated barn. The new automotive building is now complete with 2,400 square feet, three overhead doors and a car lift.

The Jeep that Corey began working on is now finished. Boys and girls at the House of Hope completely restored it; they found all the parts new, even the 258 six-cylinder engine, which was still in the crate. They rebuilt the transmission, installed new brakes and a new fuel system.

They invested $5,800 in it, and received an offer of $12,500 for it.

The House of Hope raises approximately $40,000 annually selling vehicles that the students restore. Proceeds are then used for the general scholarship fund. And support from the Collectors Foundation makes it all possible.

“It really helps keep our program going,” Round says.

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