Home used for 90s film “My Girl” being renovated to support at-risk mothers

We all have our beliefs that ground us and can help keep us centered and focused. But beliefs without actions are just words. Jill Green, founder of Hope House, is an example of a Lakelander with a big dream in her heart who is putting her beliefs into action, and helping out a slew of new moms in the process.

Lakelander Jill Green, founder of Hope House

Several years ago, Jill Green first dreamed of Hope House. She envisioned a place that would house and assist new moms, ensuring they are equipped to not only survive the challenging and sometimes frightening chapter of motherhood, but also thrive in it. She dreamed of a place where moms would be encouraged to choose life for their unborn child because of the tangible support and extended community that was ready to wrap around them.

“As a mom myself, I know the joys of motherhood,” says Green, a mother of four boys. “I wanted to give an option to moms who may want to experience that joy but feel like their only option is to terminate that life. A mom might feel like because they lack the resources or support, having a kid couldn’t possibly work out for them.” 

Green said the hopelessness of some expectant mothers who feel all alone in their journey is what compelled her to create a place where hope abounds.

Hope House is not a shelter or a rehab facility, it’s a training ground — a training ground for first time expectant mothers to gain confidence as a mother, until they can operate on their own. Hope House’s mission is simple: to serve, equip and empower new moms who have chosen life for their babies.

“As a mom myself, I know the joys of motherhood. I wanted to give an option to moms who may want to experience that joy but feel like their only option is to terminate that life. A mom might feel like because they lack the resources or support, having a kid couldn’t possibly work out for them.”

“Our program will be 12 months long, and our moms will live with us for all 12 of those months,” Green says. “The idea is that by the time that they leave our house they would feel equipped and empowered to the degree that they can confidently live a life that is thriving — a life where these moms are not having to rely on government assistance or just be struggling on their own.”

The training mothers will receive during their time in Hope House will be comprehensive: from basic life skills such as resume building or managing finances, all the way to essential mom stuff, like how to change a diaper or give your baby a proper bath. Every mom in Hope House will learn about the responsibilities of having a kid, but also how to better take care of themselves. 

As for the physical house itself? Well, you might recognize it from the 1991 coming-of-age movie My Girl. The sprawling Victorian home is located in Bartow and is more than 7,500 square feet.

“When we walked through the house for the first time, it was just incredible how perfect it was for us because it used to be a bed and breakfast,” Green says. “So the setup is just perfect. Lots of bathrooms. I could talk about the house for hours. And I could tell you the miracles that have happened for us to get this house. I mean, it was crazy.”

When Green submitted an offer for the infamous My Girl house, not only was her offer matched by other potential buyers, but Hope House didn’t have a penny to its name. But when the owner of the property heard about what Green dreamed of using the My Girl house for, Green received a call.

To stay up-to-date on its progress or get involved as a volunteer or donor, visit hishopehouse.com. 

“The owner of the home ended up calling and sharing with me that his parents ran a single mom’s home when he was a little boy,” she says. “But even so, it would make no sense for him to accept our offer. We had no proof of finances. It’s insane that the listing agent even presented him with our offer. But, you know, I believe just God orchestrated everything.”

The next day the owner called back and said he and his partner were willing to take the risk. They accepted Green’s offer.

When Hope House opens, the home will house up to eight mothers and their children at a time. Currently, Hope House is planning to open the doors of the historical home in fall 2023, due to the extent of rehab that the legendary property needs. Green, a visionary who is self-employed and worked for Southeastern and Highland Park Church, says her hope and prayer is that the Hope House model can be duplicated. 

“Our goal has always been to have multiple homes so that we can give more expectant moms the opportunity for care.” says Green “And my dream is that eventually Hope House would have such a great reputation that businesses and companies are eager to hire the moms that come out of our program because we have such an excellent reputation of how we develop our moms and prepare them for what’s next. I’ve always hoped that our moms would be contributors into society and into our community here in Lakeland.”