RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA -- “I moved here from reservation. I came here to find a better live for my daughter and me. The HOPE Center helped me find a place to live and a job. I mainly use the HOPE Center to get my mail now. I just got my daughter’s report card. She is doing really good,” Beverly, HOPE Center client.
Photo: Beverly a guest at the HOPE Center recieves her mail and lists the HOPE Center as her permanent address. Photo by David Stucke, Dakotas Conference Communications.
Hundreds of people like Beverly are receiving services on a daily basis from the HOPE Center in Rapid City, South Dakota. The HOPE Center offers day services to people who are homeless or living in poverty.
Bishop Bruce R. Ough has designated the HOPE Center as a recipient of the 2014 Thanksgiving Appeal. “The HOPE Center was begun in 2011 as an outreach center to the homeless and impoverished population in Rapid City. It provides basic direct services such as referrals and facilities, as well as counseling and case work to help individuals and families connect to additional services in the Rapid City area. A significant portion of their ministry is with Native Americans living in the community and surrounding area. The HOPE Center is a highly respected and effective United Methodist witness.”
How it got started
The First United Methodist Church in Rapid City (First UMC), a downtown church, started seeing an increase need for services for people who were living in poverty and people who did not have a home. The church had condcuted several community outreach activities but felt something more needed to be done.
A team of people from First UMC visited a center in Colorado that provided day services to homeless people. The team liked what they say and decided to give it a try in Rapid City.
The church wrote a grant and did some fundraising. They were able to remodel a facility right next door and hire an executive director. The HOPE Center became a day center for people who are living without homes and people who are living in poverty.
Specific service provided
The HOPE Center provides lots of services to to approximately one thousand people each month. One service is mail. Clients can have their mail sent to the HOPE Center address. The HOPE Center is a permanent address to over 840 people who do not have a stable address. It is a huge need for people to have an address to survive.
Photo: The HOPE Center is an outreach ministry of First United Methodist Church in Rapid City. File photo from the HOPE Center.
Phone services are available at the HOPE Center. Clients are allowed to use the HOPE Center number as their number. People can call the center and leave messages for clients. This service helps to connect clients to potential employers and landlords. Clients can also use the phone to make local and long distance calls,
A morning devotional is held each day. Every morning very large pots of coffee are brewed. People are invited to grab a copy of coffee and gather. A passage from the bible is read and prayer requests are gathered. The devotional ends with prayer requests being lifted up.
“We just want people to know that we are a faith-based organization. Lots of people like to come and share their prayer requests and thoughts. It is really humbling when you hear someone who is sleeping under a bridge come and talk about his or her faith in God, “ Roxanne Andre, Client Advocate Day Center Coordinator.
Document storage is also available. Birth certificates, social security cards and other important documents are stored. Clients have a place to come for these documents that are needed when applying for housing, jobs or enrolling children in school.
Advocacy work is another key service. Connecting client and guests to the other agencies that can provide for a specific need that they may have is all part of the advocacy work.
Anna Quinn, HOPE Center Executive Director describes the advocacy work as, “Getting to know our guests. Getting to know their stories. Where they are at. What their needs are. Then working with them to get set up with different resources in the community that are fitting to them.”
Other services provided by the HOPE Center are: some temporary storage of household items, fellowship events, and hygiene kits.
Making a difference
Connecting people to each other and knowing that someone cares about them is creating success at the HOPE Center. Several fellowship events are offered for people to gather and just enjoy a positive social setting.
One gentleman who suffers from alcoholism has come to the HOPE Center for a long time. He finally has been sober for a while. When asked what made him want to remain sober he stated, “You people here. I just realized this was a place where I had friends and people care about me.”
Relationships and caring about the people are what make success at the HOPE Center. When asked what he liked about the HOPE Center Randy, a client said, “Probably the people. Always smiling, always willing to tell you something if you need to know something. Very helpful.”