Helping the poor and marginalized is not something everybody wants to devote time doing, yet the need exists locally.
For nearly 10 years the HopeCenter, located at Turkey Creek Junction in Hollister, has worked to serve the area's homeless and working poor by providing groceries, clothing, job-finding assistance and substance abuse programs.
Jane Rucker, Outreach Coordinator for the HopeCenter, is keenly aware of opportunities presented by economic cycles and is anxious to get the faith-based organization’s flood-damaged facility back to functioning four days a week.
The HopeCenter was closed last week while flood damage to the building was repaired.
“The landlord pulled the wallboards off and is letting them dry out and he’s putting new insulation in,” Rucker said.
“We took what we could salvage out of it. We’ll come back together next week.”
Rucker and Director Kylie Gatewood were not idle. They drafted a press release to sum up what the HopeCenter views as a pressing need.
“In this seasonal tourism-driven economy, so many of our folks get laid off until March and are so reliant on our help getting through the tough winter months. We are excited to open again and help fill that gap.”
Rucker has witnessed the impact first-hand, emphasizing that HopeCenter staff make a conscious effort to stick with people and see them through a crisis.
“It’s interesting, we get a different sweep of people at different times of the year,” Rucker said. “The people that we’re serving aren’t looking to stay on the welfare rolls. They come in and tell us, ‘Wow, it just feels like family in here.’
“We’re not just the next bag of groceries. Our heart is to stick with them so that they can get out of that low place,” Rucker said.
In one recent case, Rucker recalls the ministry praying with a couple who were looking for vintage mobile home parts. The answer didn’t happen overnight but HopeCenter staff stayed.
“It took three or four months but it finally happened,” Rucker said. “In November, they got their parts and they got to go home.”
The ministry fulfills many different types of needs.
“Older people come in. They just want somebody to talk to,” Rucker said, explaining they often end up volunteering with the HopeCenter.
“We’re feeling the hurt by not being there.”