The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 9, 2011

Hope Outreach thrifty with its ministry

By Kasey Fowler, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID — Hope Outreach is more than the local thrift store most people pass by every day on Van Buren.

The organization is comprised of many ministries that reach out to  those in need in various ways, all funded, in part, by the store.

Community care and homeless ministry

The hub of Hope Outreach’s homeless ministry is 815 W. Maine, where those in need can find a place to refresh and recharge.

“It allows people to get showers. We have a washer and dryer for them to wash their clothes. They can brush their teeth, shave, comb their hair. They can get ready to get out and get a job,” said Matt Lohman, Hope Outreach executive director.

It also provides job seekers with an address for mail delivery and a phone number for contacts.

“We try to network with other agencies and organizations for opportunities (for them),” Lohman said.

The ministry is popular during extreme hot or cold temperatures, and a Bible study is conducted 8:30 a.m. weekdays.

The ministry also has Community Care, a program to help people with utility bills.

“We don’t give out cash. They can get vouchers for working. It can help them get up on their feet,” he said.

People also work for gasoline.

The ministry aims to help without giving free handouts, Lohman said.

Hope Outreach Community Care and Homeless Ministry is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and at other times depending on weather.

Parenting Ministry

Hope Outreach’s Parenting Ministry teaches parenting skills.

“The Parenting Ministry is able to connect experienced parents to young, non-experienced parents or soon-to-be parents — also grandparents who are taking over parenting responsibilities,” Lohman said.

One of the ministry’s big programs is Earn While You Learn.

“They have a video curriculum with workbooks and worksheets. They can earn Mommy Money or Daddy Bucks to purchase things from the Mommy Store,” he said.

By completing the video class, participating in child enrichment programs or doing extra reports on parenting articles, parents can earn vouchers to purchase items from the store. The store provides items for babies and children, such as cribs, stuffed toys, clothes and high chairs.

Faith Farm

Hope Outreach Faith Farm, 820 W. Cherokee, features vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers each year to sell at a weekly market.

The market often features additional products such as farm-fresh eggs, grass-fed beef, dairy products and soap.

Faith Farm is a handicap-accessible garden that can be used for horticulture therapy.

“The Faith Farm is an enabling garden. We did some concrete work and now have a handicap- accessible port-a-potty. That was preventing some groups from using the garden,” Lohman said. “The work was done to make it an enabling garden. Now we are focusing on applying it.”

Currently, Faith Farm coordinator Kate Morrison is visiting those who could benefit from the garden, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Faith Farm will open for the season the first Tuesday of May and will with 4RKids for a spring fling and plant sale 2-4 p.m. April 30.

The market will be open 4 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday throughout the summer. The market helps fund the garden.

Thrift Store

Hope Outreach Thrift Store is the money-maker that helps support the organization’s ministries.

“When you support the thrift store by donating cash or reusable items, you are supporting the ministries,” said Lee Langshaw, community relations for Hope Outreach. “The purpose of the ministries are to support the people in need from our communities. It all goes back into the community.”

The store has added a new member of the ministry staff, Chris Barnett, director of retail ministry.

“He is an ordained minister and has retail experience. He worked at Walmart and ran his father’s car lot for a number of year. He has lots of new ideas,” Lohman said.

The thrift store not only provides for Hope Outreach ministries, but it is a ministry in itself.

“A lot of people who work here can’t get work in other places because of past bad choices. We also try to get them a good reference for the next job. We like to keep good workers, but we want them to keep moving up. We had a couple of guys just start out at Advance. We are so proud,” Lohman said. “Our mission is empowering people to responsible living. We are trying to help people grow.”

Lohman said he wants to remind the community Hope Outreach will pick up items for the store and takes all donations, cash included.