Destin local Jerry Ogle has three great loves in this life; his family, Destin charities Harvest House and Hosanna House (which he and his wife founded) and hiking.
This year, he said he has found a way to combine two of his three loves to reach a greater cause.
“Four of our five air-conditioning units here at Hosanna House are beginning to fail, and it is at a critical condition now needing replacement,” said Ogle, who is the CEO and Chairman of the Hosanna House board. “I’ve been thinking of hiking the Florida Trail for a couple of years now, so this was my incentive to do it while I can still hike.”
The idea is simple, for every mile Ogle hikes, he hopes donors will pledge a small amount to give towards the second-chance house for women. His goal? $25,000.
“The estimate is $6,000 per AC unit,” he said. “I have about $6,000 in pledges from sponsors right now, and I’m hoping to get more pledges as I hike.”
Ogle explained that Hosanna House has been a labor of love for he and his wife since his retirement in 2008. The long-term women’s shelter opened it’s doors in 2009 and has since hosted more than 100 women coming out of desperate living situations and helped them get back on their feet.
“We have anywhere between four and 10 women at a time and they stay from six months to a year,” said Ogle. “Most of them, when they come to us, are really at a point of having no hope in life. We start with hope and then go to the practical things and implement emotional, physical and spiritual counseling. It’s a holistic type ministry.”
Hosanna House, much like it’s sister charity Harvest House, is a Christian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For this hiking fundraiser, Ogle said he is footing the bill for his hiking necessities so that every dollar that comes in by donation will go directly to Hosanna House.
“It is all tax deductible,” he said. “But I will not be collecting any money until after I finish my hike.”
So just how long is this hike?
The Florida Trail is approximately 1,200 miles and spans from Fort Pickens in Pensacola to Big Cyprus National Preserve in South Florida. Ogle said he plans to start his hike Oct. 1 and be home in time for Christmas. But he won’t be hiking alone, as he said the trip is more enjoyable with a companion to share the experience.
“I have a friend that I met when I hiked the Appalachian Trail four years ago,” said Ogle. “He’s my age so we are going to be a couple old guys on the Florida Trail.”
To add to the adventure, Ogle will have a website to give supporters updates on his progress.
“I’m going to do updates on the trail about every 10 days or so,” he said.
The mission is truly the motivator behind his hike as Ogle said; “With Hosanna House our goal is to not just put a band-aid on the problems women face, but to have a woman come out of Hosanna House as a whole, happy, healthy, and functioning member of society.”
To donate or to follow Ogle’s hike visit www.hosannahousedestin.org.