What does it take to make a house a home? Ask Ginger Stevens, founder, pastor and director of Joppa House transitional home in Charlevoix.
The Joppa project is marking its fifth anniversary as a home dedicated to transition young women from homelessness and dependence to learning the life skills that will give them confidence to achieve independence in the community. It is a home filled with love, structure and inspiration, key ingredients that typify Stevens’ mission.
Or, you might ask interior designer Georgeann Lindberg, of G. Lindberg Interiors, also of Charlevoix, who serves on the Joppa House board and is a close friend of Stevens and her ministry.
Lindberg’s two hands and generous heart teamed up with Stevens’ dedication to her ministry to create a warm and welcoming home for the young women who pass through the Joppa House program.
The living room, dining room and kitchen occupy the first floor and show evidence of the neatness Stevens expects from her ladies; boots lined up at the door, tidy kitchen and comfortable spaces to gather together. The lower level of the home is an inviting family room-playroom complete with kitchenette, TV, kid-friendly furniture and plenty of toys.
“Joppa,” a derivative of the Greek word for “beauty,” could refer to the care with which the home has been furnished as well as to the spiritual transformations which take place within its walls. The home grew out of a nearly abandoned, minimally used building that was once home to the Dominican nuns who served St. Mary Church and School in Charlevoix. Inscribed on the Joppa House walls are inspirational and Biblical quotations which support the Christian ethic, the cornerstone of Stevens’ program.
When Stevens’ project became known, a whole community of donors came forward to make her dream a reality. The former convent building was donated by the church to Stevens, the land was donated by Charlie Lehman and the moving of the house was enacted by J&R Building Movers in Petoskey. The actual work of setting it on a new foundation was donated by Manthei Development, Inc., of Charlevoix. From that point in 2012, there was a two year process of renovating and bringing the building up to code for its opening in 2014. Stevens is grateful to many for their generous donations of time, furnishings and money.
One of Lindberg’s clients had furnished a home with bunk beds for their grandchildren and when they learned of Stevens’ ministry, donated the 15 beds to Joppa House. Another one of Lindberg’s clients was redoing her kitchen so donated her kitchen table and chairs to Joppa.
“There were so many wonderful donations at the time,” said Stevens, “that I could hardly keep up with them.”
When the churches expressed desire to participate, Lindberg made up a floor plan and assigned each church or volunteer one of the six bedrooms or a bathroom to furnish or decorate. Church members donated time painting walls and ceilings then furnished each bedroom with color coordinated bedding, rugs, quilts, desks and wall art.
Tanya Whitley, of Community Reformed Church of Charlevoix, offered her talents by painting a wall mural in the lower level family room. Her daughter, Grace, helped with the project which Whitley admits was quite an undertaking. “The wall is about 30 feet across,” she said. “I wanted to keep it simple but create a feeling of fun and nature ... the theme had to include mother animals and their babies ... I hope it has helped make the basement a happy place for all who dwell there,” she said.
All the rooms have been furnished with love by a community who pulled together to make this house a home for the young women who live and transition here.
Help the Joppa House
• Cash or check payable to Joppa House Ministries, P.O. Box 174, Charlevoix, Mich., 49720
• Credit card or PayPal through the website www.joppahouseministries.org
• Charlevoix County Community Foundation, Joppa House Fund, P.O. Box 718, East Jordan, Mich. 49727
Written By Anne Kelly, Photos by Molly Hauxwell Currier