Center dinner provides hope

Posted Tuesday, Nov. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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For 10 years, the Center of Hope has been just that for hundreds of people in Parker County; a place where they found hope for their future with help from the Christ-centered ministry.

Leaders of the organization, of Parker County, supporters, volunteers and those helped by the center celebrated that anniversary with a dinner Thursday evening.

"Tonight, we wanted this to be all about celebrating – not just what God has done in the past 10 years, but we need to celebrate what we know He’s going to do in the next 10 years," Paula Robinson of the center said.

Robinson said when the idea of the center first began, she never imagined it would grow so much over 10 years.

"I was a real skeptic, but today we have a different vision because we can imagine," Robinson said.

In 2003, the organization started with help from five churches. In the past 10 years, that number multiplied to the current 63 churches that take part in Center of Hope.

The center now has two locations and also partners with Weatherford College and has thousands of people who have volunteered.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, attended the dinner as the guest speaker and gave an update on the state economy of Texas, tying it in with the center’s programs.

King pointed out that when the war on poverty began, the poverty rate was 15 percent. But about 50 years and $15 trillion later, the poverty rate is now about 19 percent. About 41 million people currently receive food stamps each day.

King contrasted governments’ attempts to distribute wealth evenly against Christian charity such as is found at Center Hope.

"As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people," King quoted from the Bible as an encouragement for donors.

King said where the government has failed, people such as those serving through Center of Hope can help ease the hold of poverty on people.

Supporters got to see the direct outcome of the center’s work in the testimonies of Larry Heine, Misty Wilhite-Stringer and Gloria Schieffer – people whose lives were changed by the Center of Hope.

Wilhite-Stringer, needing a job, participated in the center’s Jobs for Life program and is now a manager at Michael’s. She said her life has been turned full circle and that three months ago, she returned to Center of Hope to hire others looking for jobs.

Schieffer was also unemployed and started volunteering at the center even as her money began to run out. But through Jobs for Life she realized what she needed to change when applying for jobs and was soon hired.

"The people there loved me unconditionally," Schieffer said of the center.

Heine referred to the old saying of giving a man a fish as opposed to teaching him how to fish.

"Center of Hope will give you a fish, or a couple fish," Heine said. "But they’re going to insist you pick up a pole and learn how to fish. They’re gonna encourage you to fish, they’re gonna supply you some of that bait and tackle you need and then they’re gonna show you where some of the better fishing holes are.

The crowd who came to show their support did not just get to hear updates and gratitude from the speakers, but also got to interact in the goals of the center. Each table discussed questions, including what the main needs and issues are in Parker County, how to break the cycle of poverty as well as the issue of affordable housing.

Robinson mentioned needs the center has such as that of a new building since they are running out of room. Other needs are funds to start a new program that actually hires those they’re helping, a program to help women and children and also to help the homeless.

"There’s absolutely plenty of money to fund Center of Hope," King shared. "It’s there. That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s still in your pocket."

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