Hope House's young new leadership starts a new chapter for the philanthropic organization
By Christian Weaner
When Anna Pine began volunteering at Hope House back in December 2021, she had no idea that less than a year later, she and her husband, Eli, would be tasked with running the organization.
Anna simply saw a need and was looking for a way that she could help make a difference.
"[I realized] that there was a serious need in the community, and there are many people that can't afford basic things like toilet paper, hygiene products, even clothing," Anna explained. "I felt like I needed to do something to help."
However, in the spring of 2022, when Hope House founder and director Aimee Christopherson announced that she and her family would be moving away, the organization—which has been serving Boundary County for 15 years—was in jeopardy of closing its doors.
"If no one would have taken [Hope House] over after Aimee [moved], it probably would have just shut down," Anna said. "I personally didn't want to see that happen, so I talked to Eli."
After considering the time commitment and responsibilities of the position for several months, Anna and Eli eventually agreed to take over Hope House, officially beginning as the new directors in July 2022. Under their leadership, the organization has held several successful events, started a new soup kitchen, and was recently named 2022 Bonners Ferry Living Local's Finest Organization with a Cause.
"Aimee put so much time and effort into this organization," Eli explained. "And we just want to do it justice."
Hope House has been operating at its current location in Moyie Spring since 2011.
The organization aims to help individuals and families by offering free clothing, food, baby supplies and other household items that cannot be purchased with food stamps. The organization is open every Friday and Saturday with pickup times from 1 to 5pm.
In addition to their normal services, Hope House also sponsors several special events throughout the year, like a winter clothing giveaway and, most notably, the Back to School Bash barbeque and school supply giveaway held every August at the fairgrounds.
In January, Hope House began a new weekly soup kitchen, which offers free meals each Friday evening from 5:30 to 7pm at the Seniors Hospitality Center.
Starting a soup kitchen in Bonners Ferry had been a dream of Eli's since he was in high school, and this fall he was finally able to bring the idea to fruition. This new project has been a big undertaking for Eli, who plans the menu each month, purchases all the food and coordinates the volunteers to prepare and serve it.
For Eli, raising awareness for Hope House and the resources the organization provides, and seeing people's positive responses to the soup kitchen, has been rewarding.
"I have had quite a few people come up to me saying that they really appreciate getting a meal on Fridays and how much that has helped them," Eli described. "Realizing that our efforts are being appreciated and used [is rewarding]."
Hope House currently partners with the Community Action Partnership food bank, and Eli said that he has contacted other public service entities like Boundary County Victim Services to make connections and work together to provide individuals and families with the resources they need.
"I'm trying to reach out to all the organizations because I know I can't do it all," Eli noted. "The more people I have involved [with Hope House], the better."
Anna and Eli were both excited and nervous at the opportunity to run Hope House. They knew that the position would come with much responsibility, but getting to encourage and help others is what the couple enjoys the most.
"Seeing people being genuinely thankful for what we are doing and knowing that we are making a difference in their lives is really huge," Anna said.
One year ago, neither Anna nor Eli could have predicted they would be the directors of a nonprofit organization. However, today, they are thankful for the unexpected opportunity to serve others through Hope House.
"I feel like God called us to this, so I feel a sense of purpose through it," Anna explained. "To me, [running Hope House] feels like I am fulfilling God's calling in my life."
"After running it now, I feel like I could not imagine not doing it," Anna added. "It feels like part of our life now."