Salvation Army Raising Funds to Renovate Apartments

Center Of Hope
Photo courtesy of the Salvation Army

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – For the families living in transitional housing at the Center of Hope, comfort is about to take on a whole new meaning. The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is currently in the midst of a $200,000 capital campaign to renovate and update 20 apartments that give respite to daily challenges for families in our area when they need it most. Everything from the interior walls to flooring, lighting, plumbing, and cabinetry is being upgraded or replaced to convert what admittedly are somewhat drab apartments due to extensive wear and tear and hurricane damage into more inviting, modern living spaces.

“We want to do more than just provide a roof over someone’s head,” explains Major Lynda Thornhill, co-commander of the Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans. As Major Thornhill notes, this will be the first major renovation since the four-story Claiborne Avenue building opened in 1997, and it is much needed. “We want our guests to experience warmth and comfort and take pride in personal responsibility, so this experience becomes the beacon of hope needed to bring stability in their lives.”

Breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness, especially for women and children, is a major goal of the Salvation Army of Greater New Orleans. One of the many ways the Army does this is by providing much-needed housing and support. And, though the apartments are in desperate need of renovation, every year, hundreds of families who are helped are forever grateful, and Candice is no different.

While most people use their car to go to work or run errands, it was not long ago that Candice and her three children called her vehicle home. Unforeseen circumstances left the family of four homeless, and as Candice says, “The Salvation Army is an answer to my prayers. Everyone, from the monitors, kitchen staff, and house manager, all showed so much compassion and support. I can’t wait to start my new life, and I know it would not have happened had it not been for the Salvation Army and the Center of Hope.”

“The biggest change will be noticed the moment a family opens their apartment door,” explains Cathy Espenan, president of the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. Apartment walls now consist of pallid-painted concrete cinder blocks, but those walls will take on a new look as they gain a coat of stucco to smooth them out, and everything will be repainted in warmer, inviting colors. And that’s just the beginning, says Espenan. All carpeting is being removed and replaced with waterproof laminate flooring so upkeep will be easier, new lighting fixtures are being added to brighten up apartments, and upgrades throughout will transform the decades-old living spaces into more modern quarters, including the addition of homier window treatments, which now consists of simple blinds and some of them don’t work.

“Our goal is to lift people up and create an atmosphere that promotes dignity, self-sufficiency and hope. We want every guest to picture themselves and their family in a home of their own, and this is the first step to transitioning families to housing security,” Espenan explains.

The $200,000 campaign goal is coming via small and large donations from generous donors across the area, with some donating funds to renovate one entire apartment, which can house up to six people. Donor levels are also available for complete makeovers of a bathroom or kitchen, or individuals can donate to purchase furnishings, such as new beds, linens, or other items needed for each apartment. (A full list of donor levels can be found here). In addition to helping with this critical cause, anyone donating $100 or more will receive something in return.

On April 7, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is hosting a thank you for all donors at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). In addition to food, drink, a fashion show by the upscale boutique, Ballin’s, and a special viewing of the Nefertari Exhibit, guests will honor the first-ever Women of Grace Award Recipient – New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who has also contributed to the Center of Hope renovations.

“Mrs. Benson is the perfect example of a woman of grace for her ongoing generosity to non-profits across the city and her love of everything New Orleans,” comments Espenan who adds, ”When we were considering nominations for the first recipient of this new award, there was little discussion as everyone on the committee came to the same conclusion of who that should be; Mrs. Benson.” An award ceremony will take place at NOMA beginning at 6 pm on April 7 

To support this capital campaign and receive an invitation, please call 504-267-4960 or email Major Lynda at, or go to


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