Mach 5 2018: FLORENCE, S.C. – The House of Hope of the Pee Dee hosted New York Times bestselling author Ron Hall on Monday night at the Florence Center as part of an Evening of Hope, the organization’s annual fundraiser to aid the homeless.
More than 1,000 people were in attendance at the event, which featured a banquet dinner at tables on the arena floor and a viewing area open in the raised bleachers for the general public.
Beginning with the banquet, the evening then moved on to some moving spiritual music from ChristPoint Church before Hall took the stage to deliver his story.
Hall’s book, “Same Kind of Different as Me,” was on The New York Times bestselling list from 2009 to 2012 and has been printed more than 1 million times. Hall told those in attendance at the event his emotionally stirring story of how his life has completely changed since meeting the once-homeless Denver Moore, who has since passed. Moore co-authored the book with Hall.
The story goes that Hall’s wife, Debbie, who also has died, had a dream in which she saw a specific homeless man in her dream. When she and Ron Hall went to a local homeless shelter in Fort Worth, Texas, she saw the man she had seen in her dream. That man was Moore, and from there, an initially rocky friendship between two societal opposites blossomed into an unbreakable partnership.
Hall delivered a message of the power the ordinary man possesses to alter the life of someone in need even when they do not think it is possible. Hall quoted Moore about what the everyday man can do without having to donate any money.
“If you want to help someone, you got to crawl in the hole with them till they’re strong enough to come out on their own,” Hall said. “That’s helpful!
“You might go to worship with one homeless man on a Sunday but ignore the first one you see on a Monday.”
This story that has touched the lives of millions was made into a film in October 2017 featuring the talents of Djimon Hounsou and Renée Zellweger.
Hall brought to Florence an evening of somber appreciation of how lucky people are sometimes for even the most basic of needs and a realization of the need to tackle this problem in their area.
The House of Hope of the Pee Dee was founded in 1988 when Jean and Bill Fryar witnessed as many as 20 people being turned away from a shelter in Florence. This life-changing event was enough for the pair to sell their home in Winston-Salem, leaving behind family and friends, to permanently relocate to Florence to create this open-door mission for the homeless people of Florence.
With the 30 years this mission has seen, its numbers have grown from the original two to a now 24-strong team of volunteers willing to help those homeless in the Florence area. Through faith in Christ, the guiding light for this mission is to offer basic human needs, support and compassion regardless of their story, age, race or gender to allow those less fortunate to find their way as functioning members of society.
In the past 18 months, 1,000 people have been cared for at just one shelter on Church Street in Florence. Plans are in place for new facilities to care for the continuous surplus of people still currently without shelter in the Florence area.
Executive Director Bryan Braddock of the House of Hope of the Pee Dee ended the night with a poignant message of the power we as humans possess.
“There’s more Denvers out there. There’s more people out there that are going to be changed by this,” Braddock said. “It only takes one person to make a profound impact on people.”
HARRISON SMITH/MORNING NEWS