COMMUNITY GEMS: Beavercreek couple gives others ‘Hope’

Don and Jan Schneider helped make The Schneider House of Hope in Xenia and its founding organization what it is today

Families who seek shelter at the Schneider House of Hope in Xenia are referred to as “guests” by the building’s namesakes, Don and Jan Schneider.

“While they’re there, they’re not homeless,” Don Schneider said. “That’s their home.”

The Schneiders have both played significant roles in making the House of Hope and its founding organization what it is today, all as dedicated volunteers.

Jan helped to bring the Interfaith Hospitality Network – now rebranded as Family Promise – to Greene County around 30 years ago, and Don stepped down as president of the IHN board of trustees in order to volunteer as the general contractor in the renovation of the 1887 building that would later bear their name.

They are now both retired, but the Beavercreek couple continues to remain involved with Family Promise of Greene County, serving the approximately 25 people who are at the home at any given time. Don, 86, can be found there every Tuesday doing maintenance, said Jan, 85.

Matthew Cline, who nominated the Schneiders as Dayton Daily News Community Gems, has been a board member of Family Promise for two years. The Schneiders are dedicated, driven and have a heart for others, he said.

“It’s genuine, and I’ve gotten to see it firsthand,” he said. “We just need more people in the community like them.”

About 20 years ago, Cline and his family were housed through IHN when he was a third-grade student. Now he is the founder and director of Just a Pair of Shoes, a nonprofit organization that has distributed around 1,600 pairs of name-brand shoes to kids throughout the Miami Valley for free in an effort to boost their self-esteem. That includes visits to The Schneider House of Hope.

The Schneiders have impacted thousands of families through their volunteer work, Cline said, including his own. Through his experience as a child, he learned that others cared and were willing to help during hard times. That knowledge inspired his own organization.

“It all starts with someone that cares,” said Cline, who lives in the Fairborn area.

According to Family Promise, the nonprofit IHN began operating a day center in Xenia in 1995, and churches would provide meals and overnight facilities. Then in 2002 the former Francis Inn building on South Detroit Street was donated to the organization, and renovations began the following year.

After 30,000 volunteer hours were provided by more than 1,000 people, the building was opened for occupancy in 2010, Don said.

“We were so blessed with so many volunteers,” he said.

The home includes 10 bedrooms, five bathrooms, three offices, a playroom, lounge, commercial-grade kitchen and more. Families must have children or be pregnant to stay at the home, and there is a long waiting list, Don said.

The Schneider House name was a surprise to them both, and they later asked for “House of Hope” to be appended to the title.

“(Hope is) what we’re giving to our people,” said Jan, who added that they have also opened their own home a handful of times to those in need.

The Schneiders, Kansas natives who have been married for 64 years, have been on international mission trips, but their work with The Schneider House is different.

“This is how we can be of service in our own backyard,” she said.

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