Mini-Stays in Berthoud offers tiny home lodging while supporting Ukraine Orphan Outreach
By Shelley Widhalm
When guests stay at mini-Stays in Berthoud they get to experience a tiny house while helping orphans overseas.
On Dec. 8 the co-owners of Berthoud-based Ukraine Orphan Outreach opened up Air B & B lodging in a 320-square-foot tiny house five miles east of Berthoud at 18519 County Road 5. The house is available through Airbnb, Inc., a lodging reservation website at airbnb.com that connects those wanting to rent their homes with those needing accommodations.
“It’s a tiny house on wheels,” said Kris Stoesz, co-founder and executive director of Ukraine Orphan Outreach, a nonprofit she founded in 2007 with her husband Clarke. “We’re not in a remote place, but we’re in a quiet part of the country, so it’s definitely a getaway so to speak.”
The tiny house, which can accommodate up to five guests, consists of a separate bathroom and has a full kitchen in a large open area. Two lofts accommodate four of the guests, and a sofa can be made into a bed for the fifth guest. There also is a wood-burning fireplace, a two-burner stove, microwave, refrigerator and freezer.
“We definitely are an agricultural farm feel here, so we decorated with shabby chic, farm-style,” Kris said. “It’s cozy. The ambience is very warm.”
To help with that ambience, the walls are white with soft accents in bluish green and pine.
“We did that to keep it open to make it feel like it’s bigger than it is,” she said.
The Stoeszes hired a builder out of Fort Collins to construct the home, and they did the accent painting and some of the detail work. They installed a reclaimed-wood barn door to close off the bathroom and repurposed a closet door they found at an architectural store to serve both as artwork on the wall and a kitchen countertop.
“It looks like a page out of Pinterest. We were really pleased with the layout and the comfortable feel,” Clarke said, adding he and Kris added real fixtures and a kitchen farm sink to offer some of the comforts of home and avoid making it feel like a camper.
The tiny house sits on four acres, and guests have access to vegetable and flower gardens and are welcome to use the produce. They also have access to board games, local books and coffee, tea and oatmeal.
“I want to make it about Berthoud and what a beautiful community this is,” Kris commented.
Air B & Bs are an alternative to hotel stays and are more intimate and less commercial, she added.
“It gives you a more homey feel and stay, and it’s not as expensive as staying in a hotel.”
Staying in a tiny house offers a new experience beyond just staying overnight somewhere, Clarke explained.
“It’s part of something new, fun, exciting and unique,” Clarke said, referring to the national tiny-house movement. “It gives people an opportunity to experience it without the risk of trying to live in it – to see if you can be accustomed to living in tight spaces.”
So far the Stoeszes have had three sets of guests and have guests scheduled in January. They will donate 20 percent of their profits to the Ukraine Orphan Outreach and hope to increase that number to 25 percent when the tiny house becomes busier. Stays are about $75 for a night and less per day for longer visits, but may increase with demand, not going above $150.
“We were trying to think of creative ways to fund our nonprofit,” Kris said, adding the nonprofit is supported through donations, fundraisers and clothing-and-supply drives. “We’re hoping people see the goodness in staying to help kids.”
Ukraine Orphan Outreach assists orphans in Ukraine by providing two transitional homes that follow orphanage care, plus humanitarian aid and school sponsorships. The transitional homes include House of Grace in Kramartors’k and House of Hope in Kherson.
The Stoeszes started the nonprofit in 2007 after adopting three children from the country (they adopted a fourth child from the same country in 2012), wanting to help even more children who yearn to have families. They wanted to serve as a voice and advocate for the orphans, plus provide housing, food, clothing and medical care for refugees, single mothers and widows. There are Ukraine mission trip opportunities and a support network for those pursuing Ukrainian adoptions.
The nonprofit has a staff of seven and another 18 volunteers.
“Staff live in the transitional homes to guide the kids,” Kris said, explaining children age out of the orphanage system at age 16. “Kids from the orphanage, they learn what it looks like to have a family.”
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