FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A gift of a lifetime left a Fort Myers family stunned and full of gratitude.
"I'm speechless," Scott Hamilton said after he and his wife, Cherrie, found out that the house they have been renting for four years will now be theirs.
"I'm amazed how the Lord has worked this whole situation, and I'm happy for the kids, too, because they'll always have this," he said.
They are homeowners of a 13-bedroom house in Fort Myers thanks to the generosity of several anonymous donors. Dan O'Berski and his family coordinated the effort to renovate the house in 2017, and they returned Dec. 30 to surprise the Hamiltons with the deed to the house. From start to finish, the project cost about $400,000, and close to 65 people contributed money or volunteered during the renovation.
Scott and Cherrie Hamilton and their real estate agent found the house in 2016, and they thought it would be the perfect place to raise their children and start their nonprofit foundation, Jonathan's Place. They asked O'Berski, who was a friend, to be on their foundation board, but he wasn't interested. He did want to know if he could "run with this house thing," so he coordinated volunteers and donors to renovate the house.
Now that the mortgage is paid off, the $1,000 per month they were spending on rent can go to help care for their 15 children living at home, most of whom have special needs. The Hamiltons began homeschooling the children when the pandemic started, and they hired a teacher to help them manage during the day.
Scott and Cherrie Hamilton have 21 biological, adopted and almost-adopted children, ranging in age from 30 to 2 years old.
"For us (the house) is just supportive of something that there's no chance in the world that we could ever come close to doing. What we know how to do is gather people around other amazing people and let them see the awesome work that God is doing," Dan O'Berski said.