WARRENTON – Peter and Patricia Fessler found a lack of short- or long-term housing for people from diverse backgrounds wanting to strike out on their own. They also wanted to find a way to permanently give back to the community and support their efforts to raise awareness about depression and bipolar disorder.

After more than a year’s effort, they will open the Heaven Sent Boarding House by March 1, offering housing to anyone for any length of time. It’s one of the first boarding houses of its type on the North Coast, residents only needing to bring clothes and toiletries – everything else is included with the rent.

“It’s to help people get their lives on the track they want to be on,” said Peter Fessler. “When we get done with it, it will be donated to the community.”

He said that could mean donating the house to the city of Warrenton. After the house is paid off, the Fesslers hope the rent will sustain the house’s operation and support their North Coast chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, a national support and information network.

He and his wife run Penny Wise Thrift Store along Harbor Street in Warrenton. The shop, which runs on donations and unpaid volunteers, has grown to 6,000 square feet, and the proceeds support the alliance chapter.

The Fesslers used proceeds from the store to make a down payment on the house, which will eventually become another source of funding for their alliance.

Heaven Sent is located at 532 S. Main St. in Warrenton, a 4,800 square foot, three-story green giant of a house. There are five rooms for rent – two for men, two for women and one for a couple. Rent will be $500 a month for a single room and $750 for the couples room, including three meals a day, furniture, utilities, cable, internet access and all the other amenities.

“It’s a great place – you get up, have some breakfast, you go to work, you come home and dinner is on the table,” said Patricia Fessler. “It’s a dream come true for everybody.”

They said when they acquired the house, donations and volunteer time started pouring in to help make Heaven Sent happen – and there was a lot of work to make it liveable.

“The people who owned the house had 11 kids, so you can imagine the repairs needed,” said Peter Fessler. “We had one wall in a bedroom that we took 300 staples out of.”

He said everything in the house is donated, from the plasma screen in the house’s media room to the artwork hanging in bedrooms. The couple also spent about $4,000 from Penny Wise on fixing up the house.

Each room includes all furnishings, lamps to read by and televisions hooked to cable. Along with the media room, the house includes a coffee room for having guests over and a prayer/quiet room for reading and contemplation.

“It’s our payback for letting people know that mental illness is a serious problem,” said Patricia Fessler.

She said her granddaughter was diagnosed bipolar several years ago, a catalyst for their volunteer work. They joined a support group and took training to be facilitators within the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

About three and a half years ago, they started their chapter of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, which holds meetings the first Monday of every month at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Peter Fessler said he and his wife will move into a separate offshoot of the house and pay rent, while cooking and working around the house along with other volunteers.

For more information or to get an application, visit Penny Wise Thrift Store at 732 E. Harbor St. in Warrenton, or call (503) 861-2711.