March 29, 2017
By Shan Moore
Peru - Prayers have been answered once again for the needs of North Country Mission of Hope (MOH), this time for a permanent warehouse facility.
With just 11 days until the March 20 deadline for the organization to empty the present location in Schuyler Falls, MOH Board President Sally Kokes signed a co-sharing agreement with Ed Garrow & Sons that allows immediate occupancy at the former Knights of Columbus building on Route 22 in Peru.
The deal includes purchase of the 5,500-square-foot building and 8 acres of land for $140,000, with the closing expected by June 1.
That is, said MOH Executive Director Sister Debbie Blow, if the project is given a required variance demo the Town of Peru Zoning Board.
So the prayers continue, said the Dominican Sister of Hope, that the variance is quickly granted and that mission supporters step up to help pay for the new MOHtown, which is the name that has been given to all six previous locations.
In the past, temporary space was donated for its use - six locations in all over 19 years.
“We relied solely on the generosity of the owner,” MOH past president and longtime volunteer James Carlin said, “which was terrific.”
But now, he said, “we have the opportunity to provide a consistent face for the mission in Clinton County.
It was time to put down roots, the Board of Directors decided as the search was launched for a suitable site.
Sister Debbie gives a resounding "yes!" to that.
Over almost two decades, the group that works to give a sustainable hand up to the poor of Nicaragua has sent more than 36 40-foot shipping containers to that country.
The most recent one, Sister Debbie said, held medical supplies and medicines valued at $98,866 for three poor hospitals and four clinics.
That figure didn't include the medical equipment, school and building supplies and other items it carried, she said.
“Frankly,” she added, “the bulk of what we ship would end up in landfills otherwise,” since most of it is considered outdated in the United States.
To the top
The word went out for a temporary location as a backup plan.
But mission supporters prayed hard, longtime volunteer Sister Stephanie Frenette among them.
Her plea was directed to all the MOH volunteers who have died.
They, she thought, would know exactly how to state the case to the Lord.
“Sister Stephanie went right to the top,” Mrs. Kokes said.
Just recently, Sister Debbie heard from a 90-year-old woman who told her she had been praying every day since January that MOH would find a new home.
And just before Sister Debbie and a group of 37 volunteers left for the February mission, the Peru K of C hall turned up.
Negotiation were begun, but it still remained up in the air, Sister Debbie said.
Then, in Nicaragua, amid the blistering heat, the nonstop meetings, the emotional turmoil that accompanies the witnessing of devastating poverty, she said, the lyrics of a Celtic Woman song came to mind.
“There can be miracles when you believe,
“Though hope is frail it's hard to kill ...”
Sister Debbie held on to that, shared it with the mission team, and when the time came to spread the news of the new MOHtown, the nun sent its message far and wide through email.
“We are half way to an incredible Mission of Hope miracle,” she wrote. “We need your help to bring (it) to fulfillment.”
MOH doesn't have money to throw around; it needs donations to pay for the new warehouse and the improvements it requires.
Should the closing come before the coffers fill with funds earmarked for MOHtown, the group will borrow from an estate account, but with the full intention of returning those funds.
A large gym will provide warehouse space, but other renovations will be required to prepare offices, and eventually a loading dock.
The call for donations got immediate response, with a gift of about $20,000, and another supporter has promised 100 percent from the sale of a 1.4-acre building lot on Jabez Allen Road in Peru.
Henry Leader of Gouverneur donated legal services, for example.
“There are many ways people can help us.” she said.
In fact, property owners Ed Garrow and his brother Larry gave MOH a boost up, setting a “fair and generous price” for the property; contractors have told Sister Debbie they couldn't even raise the shell of a new building for $140,000.
“There are challenges ahead of us,” Mrs. Kokes said, “(but) it feels so good that we're going to have a place to stay.”
And she knows why that came about.
“So many people have been praying about it for so long, it had to happen,” she said with certainty. “It's so heartwarming — people have been so concerned that we have a home.”