HOPE stands for helping opportunities for people and employers.
So we work first as a job placement service. We have Soup Kitchen guests that come to me and we help those guests or those clients find jobs, and then we help them get transportation to their jobs if needed. We do that in a couple of ways. One, we try to contract with Greenway, which is a local bus service. Greenway runs a specific route for us.
We then provide a van service on our HOPE van. We run two routes, we run a morning route and an afternoon route.
The last way is we have a bicycle service and that helps somebody either get to the soup kitchen, then use our service, our van service or the greenway, or help somebody just be able to get to their job. We don't always run on weekends, and sometimes that person needs that bike to be able to get to their job on the weekend.
The opportunity for The HOPE Center came about during a time when there were lots of jobs available here in Catawba County, and we had lots of people, an active audience here at the Hickory Soup Kitchen, which houses The HOPE Center. We had this active audience of folks who were needing work, and we thought we needed to provide some kind of avenue to connect those folks.
The City of Hickory benefits through its partnership with The HOPE Center, through the betterment of the entire community. You know, this is and this is a community that really sees everybody as a neighbor. And, you know, the people who who are on the street versus the person next door. So if there is a way for this community to give back and for those people who may be homeless to benefit or maybe not even homeless, just just, you know, in a situation where they are needy financially.
You know, The HOPE Center actually brings that to the city and then the city overall benefits from that.
What can we do to provide some sort of path to self-sufficiency for the folks that are coming here? Because this is a starting point, not an ending point. You don't end up here.
This is where you begin the road back to wherever direction you're headed.
And I think that that The HOPE Center provides that avenue. And it came about, frankly, because of the folks that were here. It was their voice that was heard.
They needed employment and they needed transportation to and from.
It wasn't, hey, I have a substance abuse issue. Hey, I have mental illness. It was all over the socioeconomic scale, people have those problems. Those problems are not relegated to one part of society. They just happen to be the money happens to be different.
Love the fact that these folks have a chance to work to get to their jobs. And I know that periodically you hear people out in the public who say, if you want to have a job, you can get it. If you want to work, you can work.
That's not the case.
If a person doesn't doesn't know how to be in touch with the places that are hiring. If they don't have the means to get to the job, they can't work.
I just think that's just what one of the things that makes it so special that these folks have been able to be successful and and move on.
They're employed. They've moved in some cases from being homeless to being in their own place, their safe place, and in some cases with their families.
It just it's just been such a success story already. But there's so many more people that need our services and can use our services.
It helped me stay off the streets, really, you know?
I mean, that's all I used to do is get up and backwards and forwards, running the streets, doing nothing. I mean, now I got, I got a job, I got a place to live. You know, I can go home and enjoy the rest of my day without rippin and running up and down the street all night. You know, and it's it's a successful I mean, it is for anybody that want help they’re there to provide, you know, the ride and the opportunity to get yourself together.
So that's what it's for. And I appreciate everything they did for me.
And then once companies receive individuals from The HOPE Center, it gives us an opportunity to help them learn and grow in a job and a role so they can better themselves. I know that we had one client from The HOPE Center that came to us, and I think she was living in, you know, a tent or living at a homeless shelter at the time.
But once she got in, got acclimated and felt like she was family here, she was able to go get her own place, you know, and just build a new life. And that's really what we're all about. We want to uplift and empower people so that they can be the best version of themselves that they can be.
The HOPE program has been very successful for me.
I came from a long line of messing up and they was there for me to help me along the way. When I started to get off track a little bit, they would mentor to me to help me. Questions I couldn't answer. They were there for me.
In the world that I come from, it's different to have somebody that you can call on to support you and be there for you.
They've helped me become self-sufficient. They've helped me be able to be acclimated into society to help that I don't feel ashamed of myself no more. You know, there’s purpose in my life.
That it is not you're not ignored, you're not invisible in society no more, that you're a part of it and you're working as a team and you're bringing growth to this, to the community that’s being forgotten.
And that we are people and that we are seen.
I'm working from the heart. That's what we were about, you know. And so we try to give it, like you, a person, don't ride one morning and don't, you know, we give them a chance to keep right.
You know what I'm saying? We keep it. I call them. Okay. If I don’t get them, I call them to see what they're doing, what's going on.
If we're able to put people to work and help them find employment and let them become independent, they might not be visiting the soup kitchen for lunch every day.
And that's okay. You know, that's that's something that's that's good for our community and good for the soup kitchen. And it's a real win-win situation.
And then ultimately to get out into some kind of permanent housing and buy a used car that they can take themselves to work. As I say, they've graduated out of our program and that's what we want them to do. Absolutely. Get from us helping them to them being independent.
The difference it made for me is being able to provide for my family. Without The HOPE Center, it would have been very difficult.
They good people to talk to when you needed to talk to someone.
You know, they good advisors, you know, and they inspire people.
Patience and endurance. Those are two things that are a must in this life, no matter where you are. And so us providing that support, that's what keeps us keeps us going.
I hope I make a difference every day. It's a lot of one step forward, three step back kind of days. But I feel good about the work we do here, and I really emphasize that word “hope.”
If we can give somebody hope for a better life, then to me that is what God intended all along. And I hope that's what we do every day.
We cannot thank you enough for this major grant. It will help us move forward.
And it all takes money. And you are incredibly generous and we really, really appreciate what you've done for us and the vote of confidence that you have given to us, to our staff, and to our volunteers. Thank you so much.
It's hard to put into words exactly the blessing that it is to us and to the folks we serve. So thank you. Thank you very much.
Civic Local Foundation is pleased to announce three North Carolina nonprofits as our community grant recipients: Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Davidson County, Communities in Schools of Cleveland County, and The HOPE Center at Hickory Soup Kitchen.
We are proud to award each of these impactful nonprofits $25,000 to help them reach their goals in meeting the needs of their community members.
Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Davidson County
Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Davidson County (SDHHDC) is a community resource center that provides communication and support services for deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, and late-deafened populations of Davidson County. The organization’s mission is to build a bridge between deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing people.
The grant will help support SDHHDC’s ongoing initiatives and maximize its community partnerships.
Communities in Schools of Cleveland County
Communities in Schools (CIS) works collaboratively with Cleveland County Schools to identify underserved students and provide support to ensure that they graduate. The organization provides enrichment opportunities, cultural experiences, mentoring, leadership opportunities, and other supplemental programming.
CIS will use the funds to purchase supplies for its community-based programs and in-school operations, and to purchase basic need items such as food, clothing, and hygiene products for students
The HOPE Center at Hickory Soup Kitchen
The HOPE (Helping Opportunities for People and Employers) Center provides access to resources and employment opportunities to socially and economically disadvantaged populations throughout Catawba County. The HOPE Center works with the Hickory Soup Kitchen to eliminate transportation barriers for its participants and to help source sustainable employment.
Grant funds will be put toward general maintenance to operate the organization’s van, purchasing of fuel, and vehicle insurance.
Interested in applying for a grant? The next grant period will begin June 1, 2023.
Learn more about our grants here.