On February 14, 2006, Denise and Doug Thornton took proactive measures by forming a grassroots non-profit organization, the Beacon of Hope Resource Center. Sharing what she had learned in her own recovery, the house became a hub of information for residents. Denise served hot meals six days per week, provided internet and phone service, quality contractor referrals, and hosted seminars addressing issues such as mold remediation and power restoration. She also collected information about neighbors’ intentions to return and property conditions, while providing valuable information for residents to make educated decisions about their return. More importantly, the Thornton home became a place that neighbors could connect with others and receive hope that they could rebuild their lives.
Denise’s vision evolved into a model for recovery that could be tailored to fit any neighborhood. As word of Denise’s progress spread, leaders emerged and Beacons opened throughout the city. By the end of its first year, Beacon of Hope Resource Center had a total of eight neighborhood resource centers (“Beacons”). Denise and the Beacons were just getting started. In 2008, Beacon of Hope Resource Center proved that it wasn’t just a Katrina recovery organization. In response to the devastating flooding of the Cedar River that year, leaders from the Beacons travelled to Cedar Rapids, Iowa and opened the first affiliate Beacon outside of Louisiana. A second affiliate Beacon was opened that same year in Bridge City, Texas to provide assistance to residents following Hurricane Ike. Beacon of Hope consulted with the city of Minot, North Dakota to aid residents in their recovery from the flooding of the Souris River. In addition, we used our blueprint to assist after the disaster in New York from Superstorm Sandy.