The Westerhuis tragedy in 2015 will no doubt always be remembered in Platte.
But a group of ministers have made it their mission to redeem the site where Scott Westerhuis killed his family before taking his own life.
Now the new vision for the Westerhuis compound is taking shape.
When the Platte Ministerial Association won the bid at auction for $370,000 last September, there were some who doubted that the property which had such a horrific past, could have a brighter future.
But with a lot of hard work and determination, there is now “new hope” for the Westerhuis compound.
The New Hope Christian Camp and Retreat Center sign is up and a lot of work has gone into transforming this, into this.
The site where the Westerhuis home once stood has been filled in and what was supposed to become an indoor swimming pool is now being transformed into a chapel.
Pastor Dan Daum has put a lot of his own sweat equity into the property. He’s currently building a playground.
Volunteers and donations have also helped finish off the upper level of the gym.
“Finished out the flooring, trim and stuff; appliances were donated” Pastor Daum said.
All the mattresses for the bunks were donated and these rooms will now sleep 40.
“What’s it like to see your idea come to fruition like this? It’s a huge blessing and it’s confirmation that it wasn’t just our idea–that this truly was a God-given vision of what it could be,” Pastor Daum said.
A few events have already been held here.
“We had a God of the Universe camp and it was rocketry and the rockets were actually donated by the school district and we had 27 kids that made rockets over two evenings and we fired them off on the third evening. We had a vacation Bible school program,” Pastor Dan Daum said.
While its new purpose will bring “new hope” and new life to this property, memories of the young lives lost here will be preserved.
“So it’s kind of a fine line we’re walking. How much of the past do we retain as we move into the future. We don’t want to just completely sweep it under the rug,” Pastor Dan Daum said.
New Hope Christian Camp and Retreat Center will hold its open house and dedication on Sunday.
On Monday the first 5-day overnight Bible camp will begin.
Fundraising continues to complete the chapel.