Spreading Hope

The Hancock Hope House provides hope to many people in its community.  Located in Greenfield, Indiana, it provides shelter to homeless individuals and families who reside in Hancock, Shelby, and Rush counties.  The mission is to provide short-term housing for the homeless while providing each adult with training to improve important life skills.  These skills are critical to getting these individuals on the path to sustained self-sufficiency.  The Hancock Hope House provides over 4300 nights of shelter per year.  In today’s world, the services they provide are more important than ever as many individuals and families find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

I learned about the Hancock Hope House from a good childhood friend.  He asked me to attend his church’s golf outing to share the stories and experiences of our service project.  We felt that it would be a great opportunity to give back to the Greenfield community while we were visiting for the outing.  I have a connection with this community that goes back a lot of years.  I grew up in the small town of Knightstown located about 15 miles east of Greenfield.  As a youth, we spent many hours playing basketball at the park, shopping, and watching movies in Greenfield.  It was a destination location since my hometown of 2000 people did not offer much.  Today, many of my friends have moved into this community.

We volunteered at the WEARhouse thrift store that is connected to the Hancock Hope House.  The store offers clothing, toys, linens, books, household items, small appliances, just to name a few.  All items that are sold have been donated by individuals or businesses in the community.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sales of the store items go towards the operation of the Hope House.  The funds generated at the WEARhouse actually make up about half of the operating budget of the Hope House.  The success of the store is critical to the success of the shelter.  This volunteer opportunity allowed my children and my mother to participate in giving back.  The four of us were able to volunteer and work together to help out which made for a great experience.

Upon arrival we were introduced to the store director Linda.  She was very quick to give us direction and put us to work.  We started our experience by cleaning up the stock room area.  We swept and mopped the floors and cleaned up the bathroom area.  As we did this, I was able to start a conversation with Linda.  She gave me background information about the shelter and how her role affects the operation.  I learned that she was the only paid employee that the store had.  All others working in the store were volunteers.  There were four or five young ladies volunteering their time on that particular day.  She expressed just how important the volunteers are and how much she appreciated them.  One volunteer I spoke to told me that Linda is a big reason that she and other volunteers continue to come back.  She talked a lot about how Linda values the volunteers and how she treats them like family.  She also told stories of 3 generations of families volunteering and how the relationships that Linda created inspires others to get involved.  In my short time with Linda, I felt the same way.  It did not take long for me to realize her passion for the mission, the people, and her volunteers.  She was a joy to be around and she made the volunteer experience a positive one.  In addition to cleaning the stockroom, we cleaned shelving on the sales floor, sorted and organized donated books, and organized clothing on racks to be sold.

As the day came to a close, I asked Linda what else we could do to help.  I had no idea what I was getting ready to hear.  Linda informed me of their annual fashion show fundraiser.  The show allows them to model the store’s clothing to the public in an effort to spread awareness.  This event is their largest fundraiser of the year and they needed models.  She showed us pictures from last year’s event and then asked me to participate as a model.  My daughter MaKenna and I agreed to participate in the event.  MaKenna has already picked out the Prom style dress that she plans to wear.  I, on the other hand, have concerns about the clothing.  For those that do not know, I am a 6’9 inch, 265 pound man.  I order my clothes through Big and Tall stores and catalogs.  What are the chances that they will have something that fits?  In the words of Linda and her team, “We will guarantee that we fit you into something.”  As we talked about the event, I had an idea that I may regret at some point.  Since this is the largest fundraiser for such a great organization, I decided I needed to help them raise some funds.  I have agreed to wear a dress down the runway if I can raise $500 in donations for them.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I will wear a dress at this event if I can raise more than $500 on my own for this great cause.  There will be more details to come about this in a few weeks.  The fashion show will take place on a Saturday in October.

We had an unbelievable experience at the WEARhouse.  I was so glad to share the experience with my mother.  She said afterwards that she plans to go back and help them more in the future.  That is the backbone of our project.  We want to expose our friends, our families, our children, and our neighbors to the volunteer opportunities that exist in our communities.  By doing this, maybe one or two of those individuals will decide to volunteer and give a little more in the future.  I encourage you to visit http://www.hancockhopehouse.com to learn how you can make a difference.  There are organizations like the Hancock Hope House and the WEARhouse in all communities.  Take time to reach out to them, get involved, and help them spread hope.

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