Bringing HOPE to Edmond
Despite Edmond’s upscale reputation, many residents struggle financially. Since 1984, the HOPE Center has given a helping hand to clients across the community, providing food, clothing, utility bill assistance, and much more. “People don’t always realize how many services we offer,” says Executive Director Chris Sperry.
Meeting Emergency Needs
One recent client was a retired local pastor. Struggling with multiple life-threatening health issues, he also faced an eviction notice. The HOPE Center stepped in with assistance that allowed him to remain in his home. Later, he asked to speak to the Board of Directors about his experience and thank them personally. “It drove home to the Board what a difference we make in the community,” says Chris.
The acronym HOPE stands for “Helping Our People in Emergencies.” The agency was founded by members of the Ministerial Alliance, with a grant and volunteers from the Edmond Women’s Club. Many churches who helped start the nonprofit are still involved today. “This is a unique agency in that it’s always been community supported,” says Chris.
It can be tough to ask for help. The HOPE Center honors the confidentiality and dignity of all clients. People can apply for assistance online at home or at the local library, and food pickup for established clients is quick and discreet. Grocery packages have been designed by a registered dietician and contain enough nutritious food to provide meals for six people for at least a week.
Serving Our Most Vulnerable Residents
Along with meeting emergency needs, the HOPE Center helps clients find long-term solutions. When a recent client on Social Security couldn’t afford his prescriptions, his caseworker encouraged him to consult their on-site Medicare specialist. The client was skeptical, but he agreed. The specialist helped him find a better Medicare package that included prescription coverage.
Over time, caring relationships form between team members and clients. One established client has limited mobility and needs extra help with food pickup. Her caseworker helps carry groceries to her car, and they’ve developed a warm friendship. “We do this because we love people,” says Chris. “We want people to come in and ask for help. That’s why we’re here.”
In hard times, young people are especially vulnerable. On cold days, it’s not unusual for the staff to get a call from a school counselor, requesting a coat for a student who came to school without one. “It happens more often than you’d think,” says Chris. Counselors also make referrals to the HOPE Center as a resource for families in need or high schoolers struggling to live on their own.
The HOPE Center serves many local families through WIC (Women, Infants and Children), a federal program that provides nutrition classes and counseling and breastfeeding classes and support. The center’s WIC clinic is independent, meaning clients aren’t required to visit a health department office to receive assistance. It books more than a thousand appointments a month.
Along with its own resources, the agency has an extensive referral network. The staff participates in monthly lunch-and-learn sessions with guest speakers from various organizations. “When we make referrals, we want to make sure the agencies will be there for our clients,” says Chris.
Everyone Can Make a Difference
The HOPE Center welcomes volunteers to help in the food pantry, clothing room, reception area, and more. Children under fifteen must be accompanied by an adult.
As a local, privately funded 501(c)3 nonprofit, the agency depends on donations from the community. People can also make a difference by shopping at the Hopefully Yours Resale shop, which helps fund the food pantry and other services.
“Edmond has grown tremendously, and the needs have grown with it,” says Chris. “We’re grateful to the community that they continue to support our services.”
The HOPE Center is located at 1251 N. Broadway Avenue, Suite A. To learn more, apply for assistance, or make a donation, visit them online at hopecenterofedmond.com.