Written by: Delores Hurst
When I began as the Executive Director in May 2016, I had no real idea of what this job would allot me. Not in the sense of experience or work load, but the eye opening realizations that being face to face with people’s need brought to me. It has taught me more valuable lessons on love, faith, hope, and community than I could have ever received flipping through pages of books.
I’ve lived in New Roads until 18, then Baton Rouge (for college) until I was 22. Now, at 27, I can say I’ve seen major cities and had my share of life experiences, but my idea of poverty or let me say, my view of poverty was city level. This means, I didn’t believe rural towns like mine had true poverty or homelessness. My views were distorted. If my parents struggled (which I as an adult know they did), I didn’t feel it as a child. My parents worked hard. I never went without a meal. I got clothes and shoes for school every year, I had birthday parties, went of trips, etc. My basic needs were met. Within means, I had things that I wanted. To some, I was spoiled.
It wasn’t until I fully immersed myself in our client services department that I realized that although I understood struggle, I had no idea about poverty in Pointe Coupee. Poverty where there are people who don’t have $1.00 to their name or know where they will get their next meal or are so afraid of losing their way to work that they let a couple months of electricity bills pile up with no idea who to turn to for help.
Pointe Coupee is at an 18% poverty rate. That number surprised me. Clients, who I spoke to, showed me that the sense of family support that I’ve always known, isn’t universal. There are some men, women, elderly, young, Black, White, Latino people who are experiencing this systematic thing I call poverty, many living well below the poverty line and only existing with an income less than what a full time minimum wage laborer makes in a month. Even so, the people who work for minimum wages or slightly above, still find it hard to meet each of their household’s most basic needs, so what are we obligated as a community to do?
That is HOPE Ministry. It is an organization built to help the people of Pointe Coupee meet their most basic and critical needs. We’re a supplemental organization that adds to whatever you provide to help you meet your need. We provide funds to help pay for your utilities or rent or medicine and help you by providing you food that will hopefully hold you over until you receive some form of assistance or income to buy food. As Executive Director, I found that I have yet to say no to helping someone. It’s not in me. Even if HOPE can’t provide the funding or the items needed, I will work to find resources that can and will provide it. That’s what HOPE means to me, working hard to give people hope that someone from their community is reaching out to help them meet their most basic needs.