She set aside her dream of becoming a nurse when the nightmare of an abusive relationship threatened her and her young son’s security.
But today, Andrea Osmon is starting over, with the help of Columbus’ Love Chapel Center, a branch of the Ecumenical Assembly of Bartholomew County Churches. Love Chapel officially celebrated and dedicated its three new transitional apartments downtown in a restored, nearly century-old home at 423 Lafayette Ave.
The spaces, together totaling slightly more than 3,000 square feet, are for clients transitioning from severe struggles to a life of independence. The 30-year-old Osmon, a tenant in one of the three units, said she is grateful for the help.
“Instead of having so many hurdles,” she said, “now I have someone holding my hand.”
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That’s part of the idea behind the apartments, given for a few months or more to people getting back on their feet professionally, financially and otherwise. Organizers mention that these units complement other, similar ones locally from Love Chapel, Horizon House and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services.
While at the newest apartments, clients agree to save money for a place of their own — and adhere to a strict accountability to Love Chapel over their spending and plans.
Osmon, living with her 8-year-old son, is studying at Ivy Tech Community College to finish her nursing degree.
“When I was almost homeless, I thought this possibly could be one of the worst things that ever happened to me,” Osman said. “Now I think maybe it was one of the best.”
A yet-to-be occupied 1,200-square-foot apartment for five was open for visitors Thursday. It featured the original, restored light oak flooring and dark oak baseboards and trim. A built-in china hutch in the dining room drew attention for its original leaded glass.
The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation donated the house to Love Chapel four years ago. Love Chapel leaders and an extensive team of volunteers with donations from businesses worked to restore the home from holes in its walls and leaky ceilings to its original glory.
Organizers estimate that the four-year effort totaled about $50,000, given all the volunteer and in-kind labor.
“This is a big day,” said Elizabeth Kestler, Love Chapel’s executive director, drawing out the word big. “We are very grateful that God has provided this resource. And we’re happy to be able to preserve a really beautiful building.”
Wendell Ross was among key volunteers in that effort. He and Daryl McMath, members of First Baptist Church, built a basement laundry room for clients. Then they worked to restore much of the upstairs, including bathrooms.
Ross waved away praise for his four-year effort, even after he was honored Thursday.
“Somebody needed to do it,” he said with a laugh.
Others such as Ted Unrue, Love Chapel’s chairman of buildings and grounds, said the new spaces were beautiful. But he mentioned that they could be more fully appreciated by realizing how much work the house needed before the nonprofit ministry went to work.
“If you were to look at where we started from and how it looked from the start,” he said, “then you would say it’s absolutely amazing.”
3: Number of new transitional apartments
4: Number of years spent renovating the units
45: Number of people attending Thursday’s open house
$50,000: Approximate cost to renovate home at 423 Lafayette Ave.
3,000: Approximate square footage of three units combined.
For information on Love Chapel’s housing assistance or other programs, call 812-372-9421 or visit columbuslovechapel.com