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VOL. 114 | NO. 83 | Friday, April 28, 2000

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By Stacey Wiedower By Stacey Wiedower The Daily News Memphis Hope House knows how to use its resources. Its evident by the number of ways the agency manages to help the HIV/AIDS infected or affected children it serves. Its evident through its volunteers dedication. Its evident by how far it can stretch its limited budget. "Theyre the perfect example of a recycle organization, because every dollar they get, they figure out three different ways to use it before its actually fully spent," said Hope House volunteer Jane VanDeren, who gives both time and money to the organization. "Its the greatest value I get out of any dollar I spend in Memphis." This weekend, Memphians can get more out of their dollars by using them to attend Hope Houses largest fund-raising event of the year, its second annual celebrity auction. Money spent at the auction will not only go toward a good cause, it also buys a great time, a good meal and any number of items fit for the famous. The auction to benefit Hope House, a non-profit day care, respite care and 24-hour emergency care program for children infected or affected by HIV or AIDS, will be held Saturday, April 29, at Central Station, 545 S. Main St. It will feature items ranging from a boxing glove and photo autographed by Muhammad Ali, to a football and jersey autographed by Peyton Manning, to a bracelet worn by Jessica Lange in her academy-award winning film, Blue Sky. Another example of Hope Housesand its volunteers resourcefulness is the guitar autographed by Garth Brooks that is being sold for a second time at Saturdays auction. Hope House volunteer Sally Shy purchased the guitar during an auction held to benefit Memphis police officer Don Overtons family following his death. "I thought, how fabulous," Shy said. "Not only can I do something to help Officer Overtons family, and at that point, his unborn child, but I can turn around and give it to the Hope House celebrity auction and have one marvelous item benefit two wonderful functions." Proceeds from the auction will go directly toward providing care for the children Hope House serves, said development director Dwayne Spencer. "The money we raise will benefit the general operations of Hope House," he said. "Applying to foundations and receiving grants is a timely process, and a lot of grants are not renewable from one year to the next. So, its very important that we concentrate on special events and annual fund-raising appeals, where money comes in that is unrestricted." VanDeren said she could find no worthier cause for her time and financial resources. "Hope House does an unbelievable amount of work with the money they have to spend, and these kids are the most needy kids in Memphis," she said. "What I would consider to be a small budget in relation to United Way or other organizations people donate to, where you put your money in and dont really know where it goes and how much is spent administratively, Hope House spend its dollars three times over. Its the only place I know of that can do that." Hope House uses its funds to provide care for children 6 months to 6 years of age who are infected by HIV or AIDS or affected by parents or caregivers with the virus. The agency has a licensed practical nurse on staff to handle medical emergencies. It also offers developmental screening, play therapy and transportation for the children, as well as agency referral, parenting training and other services for HIV/AIDS infected parents. Spencer said parents of the children involved in Hope House often have difficult issues to deal with aside from their illnesses, such as lack of education, depression and lack of motivation. Hope House currently works to help motivate parents and enroll them in various skill-development programs. The agency plans to hire a staff member who will work with parents, helping them fill out job applications, prepare for interviews and enter schools or job-training courses. The organization works to meet the early education and development needs of the children it serves, many of whom live in inner-city poverty conditions. Hope Houses executive director, Betty Dupont, has a doctorate in education, Spencer said. "Were very concerned about early childhood development," he said. "Many articles have written about the importance of early childhood education and the effects it has on children as they move into adolescence and early adulthood. "Theyre less likely to be incarcerated, more likely to hold off on having children until after age 21 and more likely to be employed as a young adult. Those are the things we want our society to aim for in the future." Scott Williams, volunteer head of Hope Houses publicity committee, said fund-raising events and other funds given to the agency are important to the House as it works to grow its presence in the community. "Right now, Hope House can only serve 40 kids a day," Williams said. "Theyre trying to save money to purchase the house next door, which would double the number of kids they can serve at one time." He said more than 400 children currently qualify for Hope Houses services in the Memphis area. Last years auction raised $45,000 for the organization, and Spencer said this year Hope House is aiming equally high. Tickets for the event cost $75 and can be purchased at the door or reserved by calling Hope House today. "Everyone loves to have a little bit of memorabilia of the higher profiles," Shy said. "What a good time to buy it, when there are so many children out there who need our help." VanDeren agrees. "Anyone who has an interest in supporting either children or education should look at Hope House because, again, of the value you get for every dollar," she said. "Its really taking care of the neediest children, both from a health perspective and poverty level."
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