Of all the projects going on here at Fishers of Men, none are bigger than the new house. Since the very beginning, Julie’s passion has been for the children of Mexico. A bigger house would let us fill it with more people! For the past several years, we’ve been working bit by bit to accomplish this goal. We’re currently finished with the first floor, but I’ll give more details on the construction process after I first tell you what it is we’re building.
Let’s begin with an overview. We’re building a two-story house on the Refuge Ranch property big enough to comfortably fit 20-30 kids, plus Julie. After this is done, we’ll convert the old house into staff housing. The new house will combine many of the facilities currently scattered through other buildings, including the kitchen, dining room, laundry room, and office. Those areas will then be made available for other things we need, such as more Crusade storage and guest housing.
The first floor will contain living spaces. The front doors open to a large reception area, part of which is open to the second floor surrounding the staircase. The right side of the house first contains the living room, main bathrooms, creative room, and exercise room. The living room is a large space housing the TV area, sitting area, small library, and a fire pit. This’ll be a great room for all the kids to relax, read, and hang out in! I assume you already know what bathrooms are, so I won’t go into detail on those. They’ll each contain several stalls to accommodate the hopefully many children living here. The creative area will contain tables and supplies for any crafts and experiments the kids so desire to perform. I have a feeling there’ll be plenty of messes to clean up! Finally, the gym will be populated with various workout contraptions and weights for the kids to use. In fact, they’ve got some rigged up in the room already! Tires are an extremely versatile workout tool.
In the back of the first floor will be the nurse’s station and laundry room. We’ve made space for a medicine closet, recovery room and bed, nurse desk, and storage on the clinic side. The laundry room will have plenty of washers to clean the (likely literal) tons of clothes dirtied every week, with clotheslines strung out back. After all, what’s a Mexican home without a few clotheslines?
The left side will house the offices, kitchens, and dining room. The office space will have two main offices for Julie Claassen and Adrian Tovar, for the Refuge Ranch and Crusade sides, respectively. There will also be a waiting area and meeting room with a separate door to the outside to help keep work and family life distinct. The new house will actually have two kitchens, just as our current setup does. One will be a smaller kitchen for use by the kids in making any snacks, meals, or desserts they wish. Then, we’ll have a big industrial kitchen for our chef Rosa to work her magic. That kitchen will conveniently connect to the dining area for easy serving. Maximum capacity for our dining hall will be 60 people, perfect for hosting guests!
Now that we’ve walked through the first floor, let’s explore the second. This conglomeration of rooms will be the bedrooms. The floor is segmented into pods, all connecting to the central walkway surrounding the stairs. Five pods will be for the kids, with Julie taking a sixth for her apartment. One segment replaces a bedroom pod with another living room for the kids to relax in not far from their rooms. Another side, overlooking the main entrance and opening to a terrace, will be a room dedicated to music. Most of the kids practice piano, violin, or both, so space for them to hone their skills without annoying their pod-mates was a needed inclusion. Besides, it provides an inspiring view while practicing.
The bedroom pods are an interesting and ingenuitive design. Each contains four bedrooms, two containing two beds and two containing one, in order to tailor sleeping arrangement preferences for the wide variety of kids who will be living here. Each pod also has a bathroom, two showers, and a small living space. We’ll designate each pod for a specific gender and age group. One for younger girls, one for older, one for younger boys, one for older, and the fifth will be for infants.
Well, there you have it, our new house! I’m so excited for its completion! We’re working as quickly as we can, completing each step as the Lord provides funds. Our next step is the roof of the first floor, which doubles as the floor for the second. We have all the planning done and are now waiting for funds for our first step. To build the roof, we will be using prefab concrete trackways that will be placed between the beams. We’ll then slide in styrofoam beams between those to form the initial roof. After that, we’ll place the plumbing and wiring and cover it with the concrete floor of the second story.
The first step (the prefab concrete tracks and styrofoam) will only cost us $10,000! It’s both cheaper and quicker than other methods commonly used here. We already have $5,500 saved and thus only have $4,500 to raise! We’re praying to finish this step before the year’s end, and we can do that with your help.
I had the opportunity to be here when we first broke ground on the house years ago, and I’m amazed at how far we’ve come since then. I would love it if we could go even further. If you’re interested in giving, you can mail donations to P.O. Box 940, Shelbyville, IN 46176 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re so excited to share this journey with you!