Hope Village for Children opens today
By By Chris Allen Baker/The Meridian Star
Dec. 27, 2001
After weeks of preparations and fund-raising efforts, Hope Village for Children opens its doors today with a goal of helping abused and neglected children.
Events include a ribbon-cutting, reception, flag-raising ceremony and open house all at Hope Village, at the site of the former Masonic Home on 23rd Avenue.
Among those scheduled to attend are Meridian native and award-winning actress Sela Ward and St. Patrick Catholic Church pastor the Rev. Elvin Sunds.
Ward has played a major role in Hope Village for Children, helping raise money and awareness for aiding children in need. Sunds serves as chairman of the board of directors for Hope Village for Children Foundation.
Board member Cheri Kueven said children are expected to arrive possibly Wednesday and move into two of Hope Village's four cottages.
She said Hope Village personnel will continue to receive training in the coming days. Work also will continue on preparing the remaining two cottages.
Hope Village will have an annual budget of about $1.5 million, Kueven said. Funding will come from the state Department of Human Services and the state Department of Mental Health.
In some cases, she said, state tobacco funds and Medicaid funds also will be used.
Hope Village has been approved for affiliation with the United Way of East Mississippi. Private donations and fund-raising also will continue. Through Ward, fund-raising has spread beyond Mississippi's and the United States' borders as more than $1.6 million has been collected or pledged in cash or in-kind gifts.
Besides Hope Village, Kueven is vice president of East Mississippi Children's Shelter more commonly called the "Peavey House." The Peavey House uses a fifth cottage at the site of Hope Village; it opened in August.
Kueven said the need for shelters for children is increasing; Peavey House remains at capacity, forcing them to turn away 13 children within the past two weeks.