In 2003, Mark and Mylissa Horrocks’ daughter, Bella Rose, was diagnosed with stage IIIA Malignant Melanoma. During the four months and four surgeries before she was diagnosed, Mark and Mylissa received an unbelievable level of care and support from their family, home church, and community. Once Bella was correctly diagnosed, they began researching the disease that occurs so rarely in children. After much prayer and thought, they decided to treat Bella in Memphis, TN. This meant a physical distance of over 1000 miles from their friends and family at home.
Upon arriving in Memphis, they realized that their home church (Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Fort Myers) and community intended to support them from afar- raising over $10,000 to pay off medical bills from Bella’s surgeries, and support their mortgage payments while Mark was off work and with the family in Memphis. Soon they began to meet other families that had also relocated for treatment – and amazingly, they learned that many of these sweet people did NOT have the support or care from their home community. They became close friends with Ana and Rob Brennan, who had 5 children and had considered moving to Memphis permanently to keep their family together. Ana was also a source of spiritual strength to Mylissa –sharing prayer and scripture with Mylissa as she walked through the early days of cancer. Ana’s daughter Briana had been undergoing treatment for 3 years. Rob and Ana shared their dream with the Horrocks of providing an extra room for visiting family members that were coming to Memphis to see a patient. Together, Mark and Mylissa and Rob and Ana began to dream of a place that would not only provide extra housing for extended family members, but also the love and support of the home church or community for families that were displaced due to illness. Rob and Ana’s daughter Briana died from cancer in July of 2004, and Rob and Ana moved home to Tulsa, Oklahoma. But the initial seeds had been planted.
In June of 2005, Mark Horrocks incorporated Habitat for Hope, and it was awarded IRS non-profit status in October of 2005. The Horrocks began building a volunteer base in Memphis, TN and other communities around the nation. In March of 2006, the Horrocks were actively seeking a home or property in the Memphis area to relocate Habitat for Hope. They were connected to a family in Memphis that had a 48-acre property with a 4000 square foot home on it. The Barnhart family created a very special real estate transaction for the new non-profit that enabled Habitat for Hope to move to the property in July of 2006.
The Habitat for Hope property located in Shelby Forest is home base for the organization; providing housing, respite care, times of fellowship and spiritual renewal, and just plain fun! Temporary housing is provided on the top floor of the home (short-term) and in the downstairs fully-furnished apartment (long-term).
Habitat for Hope also maintains two fully-furnished apartments in a gated community in downtown Memphis. All facilities are available, completely free of charge, to families seeking treatment for a child with a serious illness.
Bella Rose has been cancer free since completing treatment in October 0f 2004.