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May 13, 2006

Serenity now

Former drug-user turns home she once refused into refuge for others

ORANGE — Walking up the wooden steps into a house she’d left behind years earlier, Janna Morgan suddenly recalled the faint scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap. Memories of a teenage girl scrubbing wooden floors and stairway bannisters flooded her senses while she dared to wonder if this place could be part of God’s plan.

It had been years since she turned her back on the home that her aunt wanted to give her — years since she’d left a life of drug abuse, jails and broken dreams behind. And now, when she’d asked for help in finding a bigger place to house those in need of shelter, Morgan marveled at God’s ability to know her heart, to take her back to the place of her youth.

“I can’t tell you the many times I’d driven by this old house while I was doing drugs and said, ‘There, that’s my inheritance, that’s what I gave up,’” Morgan, 44, said.

With the aid of her church family from Community Church in Orange, Morgan was able to purchase the home — not for herself, but for others who find themselves without a roof over their heads.

Once a daycare run by her aunt, then an outreach ministry called House of Refuge, the 100-year-old two-story home at 1207 W. Park was put up for sale after Hurricane Rita damaged it so severely that the owners chose not make repairs.

Because House of Refuge was a nonprofit organization, the home was sold for what was owed. The Community Church Community and Missions Board had put up seed money to find a place that would be suitable for use as a homeless shelter.

“They donated $25,000 for me to find a building and I’d been looking at a place way out on Highway 87 that was much more expensive. That’s when a man called and asked if I was interested in purchasing this place on West Park,” Morgan said.

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