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Macy Mullis is right there when many Lancaster County residents experience their lowest of lows.
She hears the personal stories of poverty and joblessness that have brought even grown men to tears. For 25 years, she’s taken in all this information, with the task of telling those people if her group can help or not.
Mullis is an interviewer at HOPE of Lancaster, a community outreach agency that helps county residents with food, utilities and rent.
HOPE, which stands for Helping Other People Effectively, was started 25 years ago. Mullis has been a part of the group from the onset and is still one of its devoted volunteers.
Mullis, 79, has to sit down with people who come to HOPE for assistance and determine if their needs and financial standing qualify them for aid.
She’s seen many people cry as they explain their situation. She’s received many hugs in the process, but has also been left with the feeling of disappointment after telling someone they’ve been denied assistance.
Mullis said working at HOPE is a calling and believes you have to “have a heart for it” to volunteer year after year. She speaks of how grateful she feels through the process.
“Try to put yourself in their place,” Mullis said of those who’ve come to HOPE for services. “You’re able to help someone who is hurting.”
Mullis, who was born and raised in Lancaster, has always been a volunteer. Her giving nature was broadened when she used to visit the ill at the hospital with her late husband, John, who was a minister at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church.
She and her husband aimed to minister in any way they could.
A former teacher’s aide, Mullis volunteered for years as a one-on-one literacy coach, tutoring students after school. She’s also allowed strangers inside her house and fed them home-cooked meals.
Mullis said the most challenging times locally have been the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the present unemployment situation, especially those related to the loss of Springs Global jobs in the community.
She wants to continue working at HOPE as long as her health allows. She said she has always enjoyed being with the other volunteers and seeing how people give back to Lancaster County.
“I’ve made some good friends out here,” Mullis said. “It’s just been a part of my life. The relationships mean a lot.”
HOPE executive director Elaine Adkins said Mullis has been a faithful volunteer who can be counted on every Monday.
“She was one of the first when we opened and she’s still here,” Adkins said. “She always comes with that smile on her face and ready to work.”
Mullis said the reason she gives of herself is simple. She references a well-known Biblical proverb:
“Because I’ve been given much, I too must give.”
Contact reporter Jesef Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 283-1152