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No one is immune. Loss of a job. Devastating medical issue. Death of a working spouse. Divorce. The list is endless. An individual or family’s economic status can change almost immediately – for numerous reasons.
Life happens. And when it does, people often find themselves suddenly in need. Elaine Adkins knows. Adkins, executive director of HOPE (Helping Other People Effectively) in Lancaster, meets these people everyday.
They show up early on HOPE’s door steps asking for help with life’s necessities. And HOPE volunteers oblige, because that is the mission of the faith-based, nonprofit organization – to provide short-term emergency assistance to those in crisis.
They’ve been doing so for 30 years. The organization originally opened its doors in the Ellen Dean Hotel complex on White Street on March 2, 1983. Today, HOPE is located at 2008 Pageland Highway.
Adkins and the more than 75 HOPE volunteers seek to fill the ever-increasing requests for help. In 2012, HOPE assisted 4,991 families and distributed food to 2,556 families. In 2010, HOPE assisted 4,669 families and distributed food to 1,646 families.
A sluggish economy and high unemployment rate are the biggest culprits. The closing of Springs Global in 2007 also had a big impact. Some of the more than 750 employees who lost their jobs ended up at HOPE in search of help. Many had never asked for help before.
“You can pretty much tell the first-timers,” said Macy Mullis, HOPE volunteer. “They’re the ones with the ‘deer in the headlights’ look, who stare at their feet the entire time.”
HOPE volunteers not only help with utilities, mortgages, rent and food, they also provide a sounding board for people to share their concerns.
While the commitment and dedication to helping others are obvious, it’s disheartening when those requesting help are not telling the truth.
It’s also disheartening when a trusted employee takes more than $60,000 from the organization whose mission is to help those in need. Yet, HOPE has had to deal with both situations. Adkins and the volunteers are frustrated with with the untruthfulness.
They felt betrayed by the inside theft and worried about community support and the impact it would have on helping the most needy in the community.
Instead, the community rallied. We commend the community because HOPE could not exist if it wasn’t for the strong support of the community – through churches, businesses and individuals.
Volunteer Ginny Hendrix is grateful for that support.
“All you can do is face it (challenge presented by the theft) head on and take steps to make sure that it doesn’t ever happen again,” Hendrix said. “Our board remains committed to make this year our best ever and move forward to fulfill HOPE’s mission.”
HOPE has provided a much-needed service for three decades. We’re very proud of its accomplishments.
We’re also very proud of the community’s decision to continue supporting this valuable organization. If you’re not supporting HOPE, we encourage you to do so – either with food or money donations or through volunteering.
None of us should become too comfortable with our current status because life happens. We, too, could find ourselves in need.
And with the community’s continued support, HOPE will be there for us, just like it has for thousands of others since 1983.