November 2009 - May 2010
May 2010 - October 2010
October 2010 - Present
In October of 2008 the Holy Spirit laid on my heart to start a community supported charity to provide free food, clothing, household items, shoes, toys, furniture, etc to struggling families in the area. At the time, I worked full time, assisted my father who had health problems and tended to the daily needs of my own family. I told God “Are you serious? I don’t know how to do it or have time for it”. The answer came back “Just research and plan”. So on my lunch hour from work, I started visiting other charities in the OKC area to see how they function. I also started researching the administrative requirements to opening and running a non profit charity. The week of Thanksgiving my father had a heart attack and was in a coma until he passed away on December 20th. The Lord allowed me to grieve and in April of 2009 told me “Now is the time”.
I spoke with my pastor and asked for any support from the church they could offer to get this ministry started. Of course he supported me 100%. My job agreed to let me start taking off ½ day every Thursday and my associate pastor and I visited with other area pastors to gain support from the other churches. My direction from the Holy Spirit had been a community supported charity, not a ministry of my church. We were also looking for a building to use but no one was willing to donate a building. We had little funding so could not afford to pay rent anywhere. I had started collecting donations of clothing, household items and stored them in my garage. We had a family contact the church with immediate needs so I guess you could say the Tri Center Hope Center started in my garage. On a Saturday my family helped me lay everything out in the garage and drive way so this kind couple and 2 small children could come “shop”. A few weeks later there was another family contact the church that had lost everything in a fire so we laid everything out again one week night so they could have clothing, shoes, towels, etc. I guess God was testing me to see how dedicated I was going to be to his plan. I was about to give up because it was not coming together as I was planning.
In October 2009 one of the church members offered to let us use 3 of his climate controlled storage units in his storage facility he had just built and the church was letting us operate as a ministry of the church until we could obtain our 501c3 approval from the IRS to become our own entity. God reminded me this is His plan and everything happens in His time, not mine. It was one of many moments to come that God would let me get to the end of my rope and prove to me again that this is His plan and he takes care of those who follow and obey Him. We started looking for clothing racks and shelving and moved in and begun organizing. My job was gracious enough to allow me to cut back to 4 days a week so I could be off all day on Thursdays once we actually opened. That alone was another confirmation from God that I was following His direction and He was taking care of everything.
On November 12, 2009 we opened for the first time from 1:00 – 5:00 to allow families to shop for everything but food. We would not be able to offer food until the next month. The schools were conducting their annual food drive and we were depending upon it to stock our shelves. We were only able to open ½ a day because it took all morning to drag most of the donations out of the storage units and set up in the hallway. At the end of each Thursday we had to pack everything back into the 3 storage units. Our first day we had 13 families come in for assistance. We opened again the next Thursday and had only 7 families.
On December 3, 2009 we started handing out boxes of food also. I had volunteers who would work on Saturdays to pack the boxes with food items so they would be ready for Thursday. Within a few months we had gone to letting the families choose items from our food shelves instead of us choosing for them ahead of time. The community was so generous with donations that we grew from 3 storage units to six. God was truly providing for His plan. Our agreement with the owner of the storage units was to only stay until he rented all of his units and needed to start using the ones we were using. God started blessing his business and around March 2010 he started renting the majority of his units. I knew we would need another facility soon but still did not have enough funding to pay rent anywhere.
In April 2010 I received a call from the owner of Recycle for Charity. He had been given our name by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and wanted to help our charity. He had donation drop boxes and for the donations dropped in our designated drop boxes, he would give money to the charity. I did not think that would help us too much because we needed donations to hand out although we did need more funding. After checking with other charities he assisted, I decided to talk to him some more. He asked what our biggest need was and I told him we needed a building for free. He said he was opening a donation drive thru in the area and did not need the entire building so he would share it with us rent free for 6 months. I really stepped back and questioned his motives and reminded him The Hope Center had absolutely nothing to offer him. He said he felt God directing him to help us.
Even after that, it still took God shoving me in that direction to make the move from the storage units to about a 700 square foot space. Once again God’s timing was perfect because we really needed to unoccupy the units so they could be rented out. On Mothers Day weekend we moved into the donation drive thru center with Recycle for Charity. The same day we moved in, the postal carriers conducted their annual food drive and we were the chosen recipients. They collected about 3,000 lbs of food and would drop it off thru out the day. It was a crazy day! We still only opened ½ a day because we had to pull some donations outside for people to shop and we had to go back to pre boxing the food because the food room was not large enough for people to shop in. If people were getting food only, they would come in to sign in and then pull around to the drive thru and volunteers would carry their food boxes out to their cars. There just was not enough room for a lot of people in the building. We were averaging 60-70 families every Thursday by then. The relationship with Recycle for Charity though was another part of God’s plan for the Hope Center. The owner and his family are God following Christians.
By August, God really started blessing his business and the Hope Center and it was evident we needed yet another facility soon. The current building was simply not large enough for both businesses but we still did not have enough funding for rent, utilities, insurance, etc. Our funding barely covered our food expenses. We received food periodically from a few of the area churches and other food drives but the majority we purchased thru the Regional Food Bank at a discounted rate. Once again, I did not know what the next step was and was running out of options. I had found a location in Tuttle with rent of $1000/month and knew we could not afford it. Recycle for Charity offered to pay ½ of our rent and my assoc pastor went to the church congregation and asked for dedicated monthly donors to commit to cover the difference for the rent, utilities, insurance, etc.
Within 2 days, we had enough donor commitments to afford the move. Yet again, God providing for His plan. The only draw back was we would no longer be able to order from the Regional Food Bank because we would no longer be in Newcastle and we could not afford to supply the quantity of food we currently were by having to purchase at full price from other stores. The Holy Spirit told me to call 1 more time on a building in Newcastle I had already called on at least 4 times in the last 12 months. I knew the rent was at least $1600/month on it. I asked my assoc pastor to call the owner for me because he knew him. He agreed to let us use ½ of his 5,000 square foot building for $1000/month. Yet again, God taking care of His plan.
We moved into the old tag agency on Main street in Newcastle around the end of October 2010. Recycle for Charity was not finished working with us. The week of Christmas the owner bought 75 full size turkeys and hams for us to pass out to the families, 75 new wrapped presents for the boys and girls and dressed as Santa and took free pictures for the families that came in that Thursday. To this day, we still have a wonderful working relationship with that organization. they continue to fulfill specific needs and assist us in several ways. We now open from 9:00 to 5:00 every Thursday and have gone back to letting the families choose the food from our food room instead of us choosing it for them. We currently average between 90 -110 families every week.
We have a continual need for new financial donors, donations of non perishable food items, clothing, shoes, toys, household items, etc. At the making of this web page, we have been open 11 years. I look back and am still continually amazed how God’s plan is continually moving forward. Even though we meet the physical needs of those struggling in our community, our main task is to spread and show the love of Jesus Christ. Our commission from the Bible is to spread His word to the ends of the earth. We are made to serve our God. Are you a worldly Christian or world class Christian?
Director/Founder of TCHC
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
1 John 3:16-18