In 2005, Chris Sperry became the CEO of HOPE Center of Edmond. She had volunteered at the center for several years before that, helping clients with basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter, and she loved it. When presented with the opportunity to become CEO, she enthusiastically accepted the job because “Working with people is a lot more fun than being an accountant,” she explained.
Since 1984, HOPE Center has been providing assistance to the Edmond community in the form of food, clothing, and assistance paying utility bills. Their mission is in their name: Helping Our People in Emergencies by meeting the basic needs of people in Edmond who are having personal emergencies or crises.
During more “normal” times, 170 volunteers per week assist with running their health clinic and WIC office, HOPEfully Yours Resale Shop, and food pantry. All of their services are designed to help people get back on their feet.
Sperry explained that a mom can come and get health care for herself and her children. She can get free obstetric care, access a lactation consultant, and get breastfeeding peer counseling. She can enroll in the WIC program, which provides supplemental food and nutritional support for women, infants, and children under age five.
In addition to canned goods and non-perishable items, the HOPE Food Pantry offers fresh food. They use sales from HOPEfully Yours Resale Shop and monetary donations to purchase items like milk, fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats at discounted rates from area grocery stores. They also partner with the Regional Food Bank for non-perishable items.
According to Sperry, HOPEfully Yours Resale Shop is unlike any other resale shop. Donated clothing is sorted by volunteers who stock the shelves and racks at the clothing warehouse. Clients can shop at the warehouse and receive free clothing. Other items such as wedding gowns, formal dresses, dry-clean only, and items that cannot be used by clients, are stocked in the resale shop. She describes it as one of the most upscale resale shops in the metro. Sales from the resale shop are used to purchase perishable food items for the food pantry.
At the time of this writing, HOPE was in the process of opening HOPE Depot, a new thrift store with the motto, “Bin There, Bagged That.” Customers of HOPE Depot pay $25 to receive a bag that they fill with as much as they can. Larger items like winter coats are priced separately. HOPE Depot will carry mostly clothes but will also have some smaller items.
When discussing the current pandemic crisis and its effect on business, Sperry said, “Sometimes a crisis makes you change the way you do things, and it turns out it’s better,” such as adapting to accepting online applications for services.
HOPE Center always needs donations of non-perishable food items and clothing, as well as and volunteers. Normally, they have 170 volunteers a week, but with the pandemic, their older volunteers are staying home. Children may volunteer, but children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteer opportunities and applications are available on the website.
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About Laura Gamble
Laura is President of Redbud Advisory Group, a consulting company that she founded in 2016. Redbud, whose tagline is, “First I listen”, provides a myriad of consulting and professional development services to non-profit and small business leaders. She is a certified life coach and holds certifications in non-profit management and DISC Behavioral Analysis.