Blog post by Reed from Washington, DC
When I was 15-years-old there was only one thing stood between me and the rank of Eagle Scout. This high distinction in Scouting is marked by the completion of a Leadership Service Project where candidates must conceptualize a project that will benefit their community and then successfully manage a team of other Scouts in order to complete the task. I chose to organize a region-wide food drive to collect non-perishable items and donate them to an organization that would ensure that they would reach individuals and families in need.
After reviewing potential benefactors to receive the collected food, I chose New Hope Ministries (NHM) – a Christian social service agency that provides assistance to community members in times of need and supports their efforts toward stability. My project resulted in thousands of donated items.
Goose bumps wisped over my skin as I walked into their new facility 22 years later. I was in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania helping my father recover from knee surgery and I took a few hours off to go and help NHM out. I was scheduled to be folding letters and stuffing envelopes for an appreciation dinner the organization will hold in June for all the volunteers who have helped NHM achieve their goals throughout the year.
Every single person I had contact with there was delightful. Kindness flowed freely from every staff member with whom I interacted – Joanne, Molly and Sue – as well as my two follow envelope-stuffers – Brenda and Silvia. The work might sound boring, but the three of us had a lot of fun.
After two hours of folding and stuffing and successfully avoiding paper cuts, Sue Fornicola, the program manager, kindly offered the three of us a tour of their new facility. It hardly resembles the building I had visited as a teenager. I think the most impressive areas were the food pantry and the food warehouse. It is a very professional operation.
Although it’s easy to be distracted by the well run food pantry, NHM is much more than just a pantry. They also provide:
- rent/mortgage assistance to prevent homelessness
- prescription, medical, dental and eye care assistance
- utility assistance to prevent termination of service
- transportation assistance
But what I discovered through my time at NHM is that their real gift to the individuals who walk through their doors is something far more valuable than bags of groceries or assistance paying rent. They give people the love and support that they need to pull themselves up. They give them hope.