In Jan Foland’s life most problems can be solved by prayer. Foland is the executive director of Off-Broadway Ministry, a street ministry that has worked with the homeless in West Central for the last 12 years, and now the ministry can add another home to its small network of halfway houses and temporary living facilities.
Off-Broadway will be turning a two-story home on the corner of Nettleton Street and Mallon Avenue into its “HUB,” short for “help us believe there is hope.” The home includes a pole barn – decorated with a lighthouse mural and many handprints – that’s familiar to people in West Central.
“We have always wanted this building,” Foland said. “It’s amazing that it finally worked out.”
She added that the handprints on the pole barn were left by people who have made a commitment to walk with the Lord and give up a life with drugs through Off-Broadway.
“On here are the handprints of people who have lost their lives to drugs, and people who’ve beat the drugs,” Foland said, standing next to the pole barn on Friday. “The baby footprints (are) a commitment from parents saying they want to raise their kids without drugs.”
The property was purchased by real estate investor John Bellefeuille, and he’s leasing it to Off-Broadway which will use it as a men’s discipleship home.
“We prayed and prayed for that building,” Foland said, explaining that the former owner wanted to give the approximately 100-year-old home to Off-Broadway but couldn’t afford to do so.
Bellefeuille said he was happy to step in as the middleman and when the home came up for sale he bought it in November.
“My wife and I are real estate developers, and we are Christians,” he said when asked why he decided to purchase the home for Off-Broadway. “And I can’t go out in the streets and be a credible street minister. I don’t have that gift. But I can do this.”
The huge two-story home needs extensive renovation inside and out before it can be put to full use.
Volunteers are working on the home, painting, scraping and fixing whatever needs to be fixed.
On Monday, Off-Broadway held an open house asking for cash donations and for sponsors interested in donating materials or sponsoring the restoration of a room.
Off-Broadway started Monday what it hopes is a 40-day makeover of the house.
“Neighborhood kids can come in here and help, if they want,” Foland said. “When they help out they have ownership, and they don’t destroy what they help build.”
Once ready for use, the HUB, at 2225 W. Mallon Ave., will be used the same way the Women’s Lighthouse of Hope on West Sharp Avenue has been used since 2008, but for men.
Bellefeuille said he doesn’t plan to charge Off-Broadway rent until someone is living at the house.
The home has a checkered past most recently as a drug house and a crash pad. Stanley Hebener, who helps Off-Broadway with public relations, said he knows the house well.
“I used to come down here and buy drugs all the time,” Hebener said. “Then I started coming to Off-Broadway, and they prayed over me, and here I am now working for them.”
Project supervisor Craig “The Bug Man” Day said the house will be a men’s group home and that there will be a chapel in the backyard. Aside from overseeing construction, Day also does drug prevention outreach to children and teens through his unique Bugs Against Drugs program. He holds bug races featuring his stable of African dung beetles or love bugs, as he calls them.
“It’s just a great way to get in touch with the kids, so you can talk to them about not using drugs,” Day said. “I know God wants me to be here.”