PSI: What happened to "The House of Hope"? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

PSI: What happened to "The House of Hope"?

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LINCOLNTON, NC (WBTV) - It was the feel good story of the Christmas season. A reality show swooped into Lincolnton and it seemed no one could resist being a part of it.

James and Devona Friday, long-time foster parents, were getting a new home thanks to the TV show "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." A search of YouTube videos shows the spectacular reveal last December.

But this edition had one more twist. A second surprise, a second reveal.

The Fridays had been helping other foster families with everyday needs for the past few years, but financially it was tough to keep it going. The show came up with an idea.

"The House of Hope" was given a store front in a Lincolnton shopping center. Big box store chains donated gift cards to stock the shelves. Local donations covered the rent for two years. "The House of Hope" now had stability.

The TV crews than left town, the thousands of volunteers faded away and over the next couple months the celebrations had given way to confusion.

WBTV got an email on Valentine's Day. The writer pointed out the Christmas Tree was still in the window and the person wondered why "The House of Hope" was never open. It turns out the emailer wasn't alone.

WBTV first stopped by on March 12 and 13. Then again on the 27th. We saw many people stop by only to find the doors locked. Several told us they too had never seen the store open. In all we would visit more than a dozen times, all with the same result. "The House of Hope" was closed.

It had become a community head scratcher. No people were inside. No hours, or phone numbers on the glass and as Memorial Day gave way to the 4th of July we kept getting that one basic question.

"Are you going to figure out why it isn't open?" asked a passerby.

WBTV reached James Friday at his home. He said he'd be happy to meet with us at "The House of Hope."

"My wife and I were doing this from inside our house," said Friday as he showed us around.

The couple had been providing diapers, toiletries and other emergency supplies to foster families in need. Friday says it was largely done word of mouth. Everything changed when the show gave the Fridays the store front.

"Yeah, complete surprise," said Friday.

And with it came different expectations.

"I'm not naive to the fact that after the show there were a lot of eyes on us," said Friday.

He says he thought they were prepared to jump in and run things smoothly after the show left town.

"We thought we were, but we had a new house to get settled in and you know schools still in session," said Friday. "It's a logistical nightmare with my wife juggling schedules."

Friday says the original plan didn't include opening the store to the public.

"It's not a Goodwill, or a thrift store," said Friday. "It's something a little different."

Friday says families are referred through the Department of Social Services, church groups and other agencies.

DSS in Lincoln County tells WBTV the Fridays have made themselves available to those in need, but Friday says now with more calls coming in, "The House of Hope" is ready to offer set hours. In fact while we were visiting a sign with the hours was stuck to the window. The store front will be open Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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