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What started as a vision to help those in need has turned into a reality that has grown beyond Kim Haubner’s imagination.
The Grant County resident started H.O.P.E (Helping Out People Everywhere) just over a year ago.
Now the organization, located at 60 S. Main St. in Dry Ridge, in front of the old Food Lion building, has helped more than 7,600 people since moving into its new building in September 2012.
“I never thought that H.O.P.E. would be what it is today for another couple of years,” said Haubner, who works multiple jobs to keep the organization going. “It’s amazing and it’s God’s great plan. We are doing his work and he is making it possible. That’s why we are able to reach 21 counties now. H.O.P.E. was started to help out people everywhere, no matter what. To teach people how to pass it on and reach out. H.O.P.E. isn’t about me.”
The organization is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Between 60 to 100 people come through H.O.P.E.’s doors each day they are open.
Those in need fill out a short assessment form to identify who they are, what their needs are and allow the organization to notify them of other opportunities in the community that can help.
At the bottom of each form, the person being helped is asked to sign that when they get back on their feet and are able, they will help someone else in need.
“We sit, we listen, we talk, we pray, we cry and we laugh,” said volunteer Terri Trumbo. “Sometimes, people just need help one time. They need help with food because they had a medical bill or a tire blow out in their car. Nowadays, unfortunately, it’s really hard to get help. So, when you come in here, it’s almost a relief when they realize we’re not making them jump through hoops. We’re not making them bring in 5,000 pieces of paper. We’re just asking, ‘What do you need?’ and let’s see if we can get it.”
The building features everything from clothing, coats, shoes, childrens’ toys, furniture and baby items.
While H.O.P.E. helps provide local churches with donated food, they also have their own food pantry, along with hygiene items.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office recently collaborated with H.O.P.E. with a Cram the Cruiser food drive at Wal-Mart that brought 15 carts of food.
Food donations also are received from places like Columbus, Ohio and Brookville, Indiana, where the group is notified at a moment’s notice to find a truck to pick up available food.
“Everything goes out the door free,” said volunteer Lillian Ignaszak. “I don’t care if it’s a coat, a pair of shoes, an appliance or a couch. Nobody is paying anything for anything.”
H.O.P.E. is in need of large and small appliances, all types of furniture, beds, storage bins, toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, baby wipes, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, mouthwash, non-perishable food supplies and clothes for all sizes.
Donations can be dropped off through the week generally from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The organization also receives specific requests for items.
While no promises are made, H.O.P.E. notifies people about what is needed on their website and Facebook page in an attempt to find a donor.
Recently, a lady on oxygen needed a meter to make sure her oxygen levels remained between 84 and 88 or she would need to go back into the hospital.
With her medicines alone keeping her in debt, H.O.P.E. reached out to the community and a meter was purchased for the woman.
Another man who had been left partially paralyzed after a stroke needed a lift chair.
The chair amazingly arrived through a donation from the community not long after.
Whether it be a night’s stay in a hotel or car repair work to get someone back on the road, the organization tries to lend a hand to anyone in need, regardless if they are just passing through.
“That’s the real pleasure of working here,” Ignaszak said. “When you get something that somebody really needs, that’s a real bonus for all of us. Sometimes it’s not a big thing. The other day someone needed a kerosene can. I called and told him I had a kerosene can for him and he was as happy as could be. You would think we gave him a million bucks. It doesn’t have to be something big, but it’s a mountain for them at that time. We’re just trying to help them overcome what obstacles they have in front of them.”
H.O.P.E. is entirely run by volunteers and through donations from the community and other organizations.
There are about 10 to 15 regular volunteers and others who come in a couple times a month as time allows.
Church youth groups also help occasionally in the evenings.
H.O.P.E. also works with other organizations, including Lifeline, Master Provisions, Isaiah House, the Dry Ridge Reuse Center, the Women’s Crisis Center, Grant Manor and the Salvation Army to not only meets needs, but make sure no donation goes to waste.
“We are starting to get some funding from churches and individuals,” Haubner said. “My goal some day is to get enough support that I can stay and run H.O.P.E. full time.”
Even with all the good it has seen in its first year, H.O.P.E. has also seen some bad.
The cooler in the building that stored food for the pantry suddenly quit working a couple weeks ago without warning.
It was later discovered that someone had stolen the copper from the coolant lines on the roof.
On another occasion, a steel grill was stolen that was set to go to a family without electric or heat that had sealed one room in their house and using candles for warmth.
H.O.P.E, however, was able to replace the grill and even get a couple more donated.
“It’s not a deterrent for us,” Ignaszak said. “It’s just going to motivate us even more. We know what we’re doing is a good thing. You feel it from the people. That’s motivation enough.”
Beginning its second year, Haubner said H.O.P.E. will soon start offering classes to help those in need get back on their feet.
The classes will likely include how to balance a check book, parenting classes, cooking classes, Bible Classes and how to be a mentor to youth.
“We don’t want to enable those we help, we want to help them get back on their feet and hopefully stay that way,” Haubner said.
H.O.P.E. also is in the process of collecting prom dresses for students who may not be able to afford the expenses to dress up and attend a school dance.
Other future goals Haubner has for the organization include continued growth into a larger building, a H.O.P.E. home for the homeless, a constantly filled food pantry and commitments from at least 20 people in the community to donate $100 a month.
As its visibility increases, Haubner believes the community to see the accountability H.O.P.E. has, which will lead to even greater support.
“I will do what it takes to keep H.O.P.E. up and running,” she said. “I have great volunteers and if it wasn’t for them this center would not be running. We are building a foundation and we are doing it within the walls of H.O.P.E. and it’s a beautiful thing. Many lives are being changed and that’s what it’s all about. Seeing a child smile because they have food or even a bed to sleep in instead of sleeping on the floor is what keeps me going. Many, many stories come through the doors of H.O.P.E. and knowing that lives are being changed is what keeps me going.”
For more information about H.O.P.E., call 824-0011 or go to www.hopeky.org or www.facebook.com/hopeky.