Hope needs some help

Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
Iola High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s Leadership Class, from left, Audrey Payne, Charley Cleaver and Amber Gray, visit Hope Unlimited weekly to help the staff with chores. On Thursday the students helped make ribbons for Domestic Violence Awareness month, which will be given out at events sponsored by Hope Unlimited during October.

With the stalling economy, Hope Unlimited’s cash donations are down 50 percent compared to the same time last year. Also, a state grant that was expected in July has yet to arrive to replenish depleted funds.
“If our finances don’t increase in a couple of weeks we’ll be forced to cut back on services,” said Dorothy Sparks, Hope Unlimited’s director. Since 1984, Hope Unlimited has provided 24-hour shelter, food, clothing and advocacy to victims of violence and abuse. In order to keep services at 100 percent, Hope Unlimited needs to raise $25,000 in the next six months.
The shelter began its 25/25 Campaign on Thursday. Staff are asking community members to dig deep and give $25 to help keep the shelter doors open and services available. A single donation of $25 will buy milk, eggs and bread for the shelter, which is seldom, if ever, empty.
“We thought if 1,000 people gave $25 each we could reach our goal of $25,000 by April 2010. A donation could make a difference between keeping the lights on or turning them off,” Sparks said.
To curb expenses, one staff position has been cut, phone lines reduced to one and staff now take the facility’s trash to the landfill themselves. Hope Unlimited gets daily calls for assistance with groceries, rent, utilities and medical necessities.
“We used to take clients to doctor’s appointments and to court hearings but with the lack of funds we are having to decline when asked for help with transportation,” Sparks said.
One program on the chopping block is Orientation Assessment Referral Services — a joint program with Social and Rehabilitation Services. OARS has a roster of 90 clients; in typical years, OARS sees 30 clients.
Lisa Chauncey is the OARS advocate and handles all 90 clients, the highest case load handled by one person in the state, Sparks said.
OARS services help people who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault through support groups and safety planning to enhance their safety whether at home or work. OARS is a volunteer program through SRS.

HOPE UNLIMITED’S next fundraiser will be its annual wine tasting and silent auction at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at the American Legion Hall, 712 W. Patterson, in Iola. Tickets are $18 per person or $30 per couple.
Among auction items is a signed cookbook by Bobby and Jamie Deen, sons of Food Network star Paula Deen, and kitchen ware from Guy Fieri, who also has a show on the Food Network.
The event is being sponsored by Friends of Hope. Bottled water and juices will be available for those who do not wish to imbibe.
Hope Unlimited will also have booths at area fall festivals and bake sales to raise money.
“We appreciate any help from the community whether it is through monetary donations or the donation of their time,” Sparks said. “I wanted people to be aware of our situation. The community has supported us for 25 years, and I am asking for your continued support.”
For additional information or to make a donation, call Hope Unlimited at 365-7566 or online at hope-unlimited.org.