In 2003, Jeremiah’s Hope was first founded as a Ukrainian Charitable Fund in Donetsk, Ukraine. The organization was co-founded by Steve Taliaferro and Andrew Kelly. Originally, the ministry was solely registered in Ukraine and was focused on reaching orphans in the Donetsk region of the country. Steve Taliaferro moved to Donetsk in 2003 and coordinated orphanage outreach and in 2004, Andrew Kelly moved to Mariupol to open and operate a transitional living center for post-orphanage graduates. In 2006, Steve Taliaferro resigned from the organization and moved back to Texas.
In 2005, Andrew Kelly sought out individuals to help him incorporate Jeremiah’s Hope as a non-profit organization in the United States. The Board was formed and Andrew became Director of the organization and continued to serve in Ukraine as missionary and house parent of the transitional living center. Over the years, we have had several short and longer term missionaries who have contributed to the family atmosphere in the transitional living center. For example, Lance Atchison (and later his wife Debra) served in a house parent capacity from 2004-2008.
Andrew grew up with a Church of Christ background, and spent most of his life in Abilene, Texas. He attended Abilene Christian University and earned a B.S. in Missions. In 2006, Andrew met (for the second time) Jenny O’Leary who was one of the pioneers of orphan ministry in Ukraine. The two saw they had much in common and were married in 2007.
Both, separately, came to Ukraine in the mid-90’s on short-term mission teams to work with orphans and other children in a camp setting. Both returned to Ukraine many times over several years to maintain relationships with orphans they had met and come to love. After completing her Bachelors degree in Social Science at Simpson University (Redding, CA), Jenny moved to Ukraine in 1997 and established a ministry with the goal of serving orphans in a more long-term way. In 2000, Jenny and a partner opened two homes in Kiev for orphanage graduates. It was upon meeting Jenny in 2001, that Andrew had the idea to open a transitional living center for orphanage graduates in Mariupol. Both were co-founders and directors of their respective ministries and both also served as house parents for the teens in the homes. Both dreamed one day of owning their own camp facility where Christian programs could be run without hindrance or excessive expense.Andrew and Jenny have two young daughters, Abigail Grace and Hannah Sophia. As a married couple, they have together been concentrating on the new Jeremiah’s Hope project of constructing and opening a Christian camp for orphans and at-risk youth. The camp is a one-hour drive north of Kiev. Construction began in May ’08 and opened for its first camp session in June ’09.
Jeremiah’s Hope also has an amazing Ukrainian ministry team. After the Kelly family moved to Kolentsi to build the camp, the day to day operations of the transitional living center in Mariupol was handed over to Tetyana Burak who has been the administrator of the TLC since it opened in 2004. Two house moms, Alexandra and Sveta, do a magnificent job working with the teens.