The City of Philadelphia has been disproportionately affected by the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The city is facing unprecedented levels of gun violence, food insecurity has drastically increased, trauma has intensified in many homes, and services in schools have decreased. Bearing witness to this in their community, Zach and Julie Ertz and the Ertz Family Foundation sprang into action with Grace and Peace Community Fellowship for the launch of the House of Hope Project.
"We are eternally touched by all the love and support we have received since we started our mission of giving back to the community in 2018. The House of Hope is our most important endeavor to illuminate the grit and indomitable determination of the "City of Brotherly Love." This force has been the foundation on which we stand so compelled to use our voices and platform to serve Philadelphia's underserved youth and families," Zach Ertz explained.
Through the foundation's connection to Pastor Rob Whitmire, the Pastor of Grace and Peace Community Fellowship and Executive Director of Timoteo Sports, it was realized that the Ertz Family Foundation's mission to provide a sustainable place of hope and refuge aligned perfectly with Pastor Rob's own mission to serve the city. The House of Hope Project is the next step in this aligned vision to do God's work, to renovate the Grace and Peace Community Fellowship building, a church sanctuary at its core, and to offer infinite possibilities in numerous spaces within the building thereby providing needed services and programs to the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia.
To achieve this, the Ertz Family Foundation is announcing the launch of a $900,000 capital campaign fundraiser to support the required renovations, general operating costs, and future programming expenses for the "House of Hope Project." With a solid plan in place, established partners like Zatos Investments and Gnome Architects, strong community support, and generosity from the business community and individuals alike, the Grace and Peace building will be transformed into a place of hope and faith. This sanctuary will offer a multitude of services and resources to the surrounding community.
"To commence our fundraising efforts, Zach and I have pledged $100,000 to help fund the Youth Leadership Development Center that will be located in the House of Hope. The Ertz Family Foundation has graciously matched our donation and combined with the generosity of our corporate supporters and individual donors including Chegg, Camille Fishel, Chrissy Kind, and The Emerald Foundation, we have now raised $450,000 towards this project. We are equally excited to announce the generosity of Comcast for committing to connecting the House of Hope as a Comcast Lift Zone - WiFi-connected safe spaces for students and adults to get online for resources, education, job searching, and more. With your support, we can fund the entire building renovation as well as the general operation and programming expenses needed for several years," explained Julie Ertz.
"From the beginning, Zach and Julie have taken a posture of humility as they strive to learn about the unique challenges our community faces - as well as to hear the hearts of those who have been here for years. On behalf of Grace and Peace, we thank the Lord for all that He has done and all that lies ahead for us and the Hunting Park area," added Pastor Rob Whitmire.
The House of Hope is a project of love and hope that reflects the gratitude and appreciation for the city of Philadelphia the Ertz's have. There is no better way to support the "City of Brotherly Love" than by creating this legacy of hope, faith, restoration, development, and substantive transformation that will serve the community of North Philadelphia for decades to come.