The Hope Center Inc. is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization founded approximately 10 years ago with the belief that in a country as powerful as the United States, it is inconceivable that any individual should go hungry. But, there is also a lot more to life than food, and it is our goal to ensure that those individuals who are in need, also have some modicum of normalcy in their life as well. It has only been recently that our name was changed to The Hope Center. Previously we were known as the Westville Food Pantry, but we have found that we have outgrown this name. This name gives the impression that we only help those in Westville, but no one is ever turned away the first time they come in, and it also gives the impression we only give food hand outs but, the food gifts we give out only encompass 30% to 40% of what we do. We are a full social services agency with trained and qualified staff of volunteers. We accomplish these goals through networking and referrals to other agencies.
Our name Hope Center is an anagram for our motto (Helping Others lead Productive lives through Education, awareness, and assistance). We believe that education is the key to solving most of the problems we see plaguing the people coming to us for assistance today. Often that education comes in the form of awareness as to what agencies are out there, and what is available to those in need. It is also important to establish that we provide short-term help for individuals and families in crisis, and do not desire to establish a dependency among employable adults. We have been able to accomplish this through a much tougher screening process. Our focus is on EDUCATION (educating people as to why they are in the situation that they are currently in, and how to get themselves out of it) AWARENESS (as to the services and programs that are available to them in times of need). ASSISTANCE (assisting only those who are truly needy). Some agencies that we have a rapport with include but are not limited to: D.H.S., Social Security Administration, Medicare, United Way, Salvation Army, Area Agency on Aging, Eastern Oklahoma Development District, Manna Center, Housing Authorities, Help-in-crisis, Victims Assistance, Legal Aide, Court Advocacy, Shelters, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Agencies, Willstaff, Cookson Hills, Community Action, Area Churches and Ministers, Adult Education, Home Health, Health Dept., Experience works, Feed The Children, and Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma. Our councelors work on a case by case basis to best serve each clients unique needs. This along with referrals to other agencies ensures our ability to assist families with more than food.
One thing many people do not realize is that if you were to lose your job and have no savings it can take as long as three to four weeks to receive assistance from agencies such as the Department of Human Services. This statement is not made to fault those agencies. We realize they have their own policies to follow. We on the other hand have only to follow our instincts and hearts. In times like these we can offer ongoing assistance through their time of crisis. We also have guidelines, but are able to use our assessment policies for every individual case, to best meet the need. Often those we help have suddenly become seriously ill or had some other emergency which has placed such a demand on their finances that purchasing food and feeding their families is almost impossible. Also dear to our hearts are our elderly citizens, who after working their whole lives find that Social Security is not even enough to meet their basic needs, such as electric, heating, and housing needs, let alone feed themselves. Those seniors who qualify financially may receive a monthly gift basket from the program. The gift baskets we distribute to families is approximately enough to feed them for 3 to 4 days. This gift is to subsidize what they are able to acquire by their own means.