Jacksonville Daily Progress
H.O.P.E. Executive Director Allison Hale knows that if services like those offered at the facility she now leads were offered during her childhood to her mother, it would have made a huge impact on her life.
A product of a single-parent home, Hale said she understands what it's like to be in need of “a hand up.”
“At some point in my life, I have faced the exact same circumstances as most of the clients that come to H.O.P.E. for help," she said.
Growing up in Memphis, Tenn., Hale said she often watched her mom struggle to take care of two children by herself.
"On a waitress' salary, simply keeping a roof over our head and food on the table was a significant challenge for her. However, it has only been since I've been grown that I have realized how dire our situation often was," she said.
Because of her family's struggle, she learned about resilience, determination and the importance of a strong work ethic. However, she also learned that “poverty can become paralyzing!”
“I often wonder how her life could have been impacted by the Life Enrichment classes, Money Management courses, transportation services and emergency grocery assistance programs that we offer at H.O.P.E. I often wish that she'd had a place like H.O.P.E. in her corner when she needed it,” Hale said.
She said overcoming poverty and gaining the ability to become self-sufficient takes a lot more than some people may realize.
It's not about “handing someone a bag of food or helping them with a prescription,” Hale said.
"When an individual comes to H.O.P.E., they are required to speak to a case manager before receiving food or medicine. This gives us a chance to help them to properly assess their situation, offer
information about additional resources that might be available within the community, and ultimately help them to regain self-sufficiency," she said.
However, Hale and the others at H.O.P.E. cannot provide this assistance without help from the community – hence the reason for the center's fundraiser on April 12.
“It allows us to continue to serve the most vulnerable in our community so that nobody has to fall through the cracks. We depend on the Castle Event to help us to sustain all of our programs over a two-year time span. Without the Castle Event, we simply could not offer some of our most vital programs," Hale said.
She has been director of the center for the past two years, taking the position because she shared the organization's mission. Hale has a bachelor's degree in business and a master's degree in public administration and nonprofit management. She is currently working on her Ph.d in public administration. She has a daughter, Avah, who is 15 months old.
"I feel very blessed to be in a position where I am able to see lives changed on a daily basis," she added.
Doors open at 6 p.m. April 12 for “A Renaissance Evening,” benefitting the H.O.P.E. Center at The Castle on the Lake, U.S. Highway 79 west of Jacksonville. An auction begins at 7 p.m. The event features silent and live auctions, dinner and dancing. Cost is $50 per person. For more information, call HOPE at 903-586-7781 or visit www.hopecenter.info.