LuAnn’s Story: Living life to its fullest.

It took two years on the waiting list for LuAnn to get her chance to move into Hope House. Without a moment’s hesitation, she says it was worth the wait.

Diagnosed with HIV and full-blown AIDS in 1990, LuAnn’s path led her through the painful loss of her husband in 2013 followed by ongoing struggles with health complications that had her traveling back-and-forth regularly from her daughter and son-in-law’s home in Wisconsin to Minneapolis for health care. When she broke her back and started having recurring pneumonia and respiratory issues, her doctor suggested she really shouldn’t stay at home anymore.

The Heart of the Home

That’s when LuAnn moved into another home for people living with HIV. As that home was on the verge of shutting down, she got the news that her name finally made it to the top of Hope House’s waitlist. She says she jumped at the chance to move into the place she now calls home.

“Even just from the front of the house and the way the gardens are, and the trees and the setting of the house drew me in before I knew anybody,” she said. “So, I was excited that I would have a chance to live here. And it’s really turned out to be a good fit for me. They helped me with a lot of things. Some of them are things I can’t do myself. Others are things that are personal. They helped my heart be okay, my feelings.”

“I found my place, and I’ll stay as long as I have to. As long as I want to, and I don’t foresee that changing in the future,” she said, reflecting on her almost five-year journey at Hope House. It’s a statement of belonging, of finding a place where the heart is at ease, and a life is lived fully, despite the challenges of illness.

For LuAnn, and so many other residents who have lived at Hope House over the years, it’s not just a house, it’s a nurturing environment where residents find not only medical care but also emotional support, companionship and laughter — essential seeds for healing and hope.

“It’s a beautiful house outside and inside, and there’s a lot of love going around,” LuAnn said. “The house is welcoming to anyone and accepting to everyone. It’s just a beautiful place. I feel like it’s my home now. Whenever I’m gone, I miss it.”

Living Fully Once Again

Inside the walls of Hope House, LuAnn found solace, support and a sense of belonging again, and her family found peace. “They love it here. They don’t have to worry about me. They know I’m taken care of,” she reflects on the peace of mind her family has now, underscoring the ripple effect of Hope House’s care. “The caregivers really are amazing at the whole scope of what they do. They make it fun to be here and to be alive.”

One thing is for sure, LuAnn has never stopped living life to its fullest.

She rides her motorized wheelchair up and down the neighborhood stopping to say, “hello,” and interact with the neighbors. Lately, she’s taken up painting in her spare time. Her first masterpiece was a scene from Greece with a lot of flowers, white buildings, blue roofs and mountainsides. Her next, she says, is going to be a desert painting that’s much harder, and she talks about trying diamond art. She was inspired during her time living in Hawaii as a young woman working at an art gallery, a job she says she landed because she spoke fluent Japanese. That, and a chance encounter with a celebrity.

“I ran into Tony Curtis, the actor,” she said, “and he was the one that got me the interview for the job because he was painting artwork at that time. He said with my Japanese language experience I would probably do a good job at the art gallery since there are a lot of Japanese who are there on their honeymoon or just a vacation or a business trip.”

Last summer, LuAnn traveled with her family to Denver, Colorado, where her daughter and son-in-law renewed their wedding vows. LuAnn officiated the ceremony. She jokes that she’s made her son promise to start trying to have a baby sooner rather than later. He’s not married, doesn’t even have a girlfriend, she says laughingly.

Clearly, the influence of Hope House doesn’t stop at its doorstep. It reaches far and wide, touching the lives of family members and extending into the broader community, fostering a spirit of acceptance, kindness, compassion and solidarity.

According to LuAnn, the caregivers at Hope House are more than staff; they are friends, confidants and family. Their commitment to creating a fun, loving and inclusive environment is the cornerstone of the healing process, providing strength and joy in the face of adversity.

Join the Mission

Hope House is a pillar in the St. Croix Valley community. As we look to the future, the mission of Hope House remains as vital as ever. The demand for its sanctuary of healing grows, and with it, the need for support from our community.

When you support Hope House, you become part of a story much larger than any one individual. You become a beacon of hope, an agent of change and a vital supporter of a future where people like LuAnn, who are facing life-threatening health challenges, find a place to call home, a community to belong to and a life filled with laughter, love and healing.

Support Hope House today.

Support Hope House Today!

Your generous gift will enable us to be the gateway to good health for so many who cannot afford it on their own.