Hoping for a brighter future

The holiday punch bowl was always a source of struggle for Owen "Buddy" Shoup.
Shoup struggled with alcoholism and addiction, and his family's punch bowl tempted him to start drinking again. To help encourage Shoup's sobriety, his mother made a nonalcoholic beverage for Shoup and placed the beverage in a smaller bowl beside the family punch bowl.
Shoup battled his alcoholism step by step and day by day.
"That little dish eventually became the whole punch bowl," he said.
He has now been sober for 12 years. Shoup uses his experiences with addiction to make a difference in the lives of women struggling with similar demons.
Shoup started the Angel of Hope House in 2005. The non-profit organization provides a safe, stable environment for the recovery of women with substance-abuse problems.
"It's like God has given me new light to the situation," he said. "I gave it all up for this."
Angel of Hope House instills in its residents accountability and responsibility through a 12-step recovery program. The women are required to complete chores around the house, spend a certain amount of time looking for employment and volunteering. They must also attend five meetings a week during their recovery.
"I'm in it for the compassion of it," Shoup said. "I want other people to have the same benefits that I've had."
The Angel of Hope House has space for six women, and four women are currently residents. Women ages 18 and older who are interested in staying at the Angel of Hope House must apply for the program, and once accepted, they must agree to abide by rules of sobriety and strict regulations.
Residents must also pay rent, which helps keep them accountable, Shoup said.
"If you take the right action, you'll get the right attitude," he said.
Keeping the house up and running, however, hasn't been easy.
"I want to accept everyone so badly," Shoup said. "It just kills me, but I can't afford it."
An endless stream of bills and other expenses keeps money tight in the organization.
"All we do is take all the money and throw it into a pot and say, 'What's next?'" Shoup said. "But every time I think that maybe I should close the doors, there's God sitting there saying, 'It's OK.'
Shoup hired a grant writer in New York to help the organization obtain additional funding. Three months ago, the Angel of Hope House opened its own thrift store, located at 2412 N. Center St. in Hickory.
"It's been a blessing, but it's also been an extra burden," Shoup said of the thrift store, which isn't currently self-supporting. "It needs to turn a corner."
The store accepts donations from the public, including furniture, household items, toys and clothing. All proceeds for the store benefit the Angel of Hope House.
Freddie Wilkinson has known Shoup for 12 years. Wilkinson said he sees Shoup give 100 percent to the Angel of Hope House every day.
"He's put just about everything he has into this organization to get everything up and going," Wilkinson said.
Wilkinson volunteers at the thrift store to help Shoup in any way possible.
"We try to help him out when we can," Wilkinson said. "It's just a great thing. You don't have many people willing to do what (Shoup) does."
For Shoup, that time and work is an investment in the futures of women in Catawba County and beyond.
"I've seen women get their children back, get their life back," he said. "That's what makes it worth it."
For more information about the Angel of Hope House or to make a donation, call (828) 855-3737.