Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

March 28, 2014

H.O.P.E. helps feed area children, provides other services

Jo Anne Embleton
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Helping Others Pursue Enrichment is more than just a clearing house for services, it imparts that very spirit its acronym spells out: Hope.

“I like H.O.P.E.'s goal of giving a hand up, not just a hand out,” said Nancy Washburn, who is part of the organization's board of directors. “They don't just give (clients) food and then send them out the door; referrals are given to other agencies that can also assist them. Every client speaks to a caseworker who tries to help them not only immediately, but in the long run also.”

The  non-profit organization, founded in 1991 by the Jacksonville Ministerial Alliance, offers several different programs.

“H.O.P.E. benefits the community because it helps a segment of the community that a lot of people would like to ignore or pretend doesn't exist here in Jacksonville, Texas,” she said. “I think H.O.P.E.'s impact is the greatest in the areas of feeding those who are hungry – H.O.P.E. does this by feeding people through programs such as the Soup Kitchen, the MANNA Pantry, the Brown Bag Program and the Backpack Program.”

It's this latter program that strikes a chord in Washburn.

“The Backpack Program really touches my heart,” she said. “It provides food in a backpack to kids on Fridays so they will have something to eat over the weekend.

“It's hard for the average citizen in Jacksonville to believe that we have hungry kids, but just ask the teachers and staff at the schools,” she said, describing the impact hunger has on these children. “I'm sure it's hard to concentrate on your studies when your stomach is growling because you're hungry.”

As part of H.O.P.E.'s board of directors, Washburn plays a specific role in supporting the organization.

“I was asked to serve on the board, and I accepted because I wanted to help,” she explained. “When you do something for someone else, often you come away from the experience having gained more from it than the recipient. You can't feel sorry for yourself when you are helping others.”

There are variety of ways to support H.O.P.E. programs, like donating and volunteering, or even by attending “A Renaissance Evening,” slated Saturday, April 12, at The Castle on the Lake in Jacksonville.

Held every two years in the spring since 2006, the 2014 fundraiser kicks off at 6 p.m. and features live and silent auctions, dinner and dancing, all for the cost of $50 per person. It is H.O.P.E.'s largest fundraiser.

“I encourage people to go, because they will have a good time and be helping HOPE at the same time – the food and entertainment will be fantastic,” she enthused. “You'll probably find your neighbors and friends there, so you can visit with them as you bid on our live and silent auction items.”

The traditional surprise gift boxes will be done again this year, while a photo booth is the newest feature.

“It'll be a wonderful time for all,” she said. “How many people can say they attended a fundraiser at a castle?”