Ottawa’s Hope House is undergoing two big changes as 2021 comes to a close, and both are bittersweet in their own ways: earlier this fall, longtime director and coordinator Mary Lois Yates announced her retirement, and in less than a month’s time, Hope House will be moving to a new location after over 30 years on Walnut Street.

Yates has been a part of Hope House since it began in 1990. According to Interim Director Michelle Graf, the churches in Ottawa’s Ministerial Association decided the city needed a place for those who may be in need of food and clothing. They used an old church as their headquarters and called the organization Hope House in honor of the feeling they wished to bring to the community. Today, Hope House supplies those in need in Franklin County with everything from gas vouchers to rent and utility assistance. Just about everything at Hope House is either donated or funded by donations, says Graf. “We are all community-supported. Occasionally we’ll get a grant from Harvesters, but we really are all community-supported through the different churches and individuals in Ottawa, so it’s truly a community service.”