By Ken McLemore
HOPE – Hope and Hempstead County are places where residents care about each other, leading volunteers in a new local relief effort stated in announcing the formation of HOPE for All: COVID-19 Relief Fund today. “I’m very proud to live in Hope, Arkansas,” Hope Police Chief/Assistant City Manager J.R. Wilson said. “Our community is made up of diverse, hardworking, reasonable, compassionate and giving people. I can’t think of better traits for a community to possess in times of crisis.” That attitude is at the heart of the formation of HOPE for All, City Manager Catherine Cook said.
“In a small town, what’s happening is never very far away,” Cook said. “We watch the news, read the updates, but we also visit with our neighbors and we know when our neighbors are suffering.”
Cook said the HOPE for All:COVID-19 Relief Fund is specifically designed as a supplemental relief effort for those who have been laid off, lost employment, furloughed, or who have become underemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My favorite server was laid off eight weeks ago; my friend and dental hygienist is also furloughed,” Cook said. “The list goes on and on. And, in South Arkansas, when our neighbors are suffering, we have to do something.”
That realization by local leaders, including Hope In Action Chairman Paul Henley, led to the formation of HOPE for All, which is designed to provide supplemental food, funds for utilities, funds for housing and funds for transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Hope in Action has been serving Hope and Hempstead County since 1986 as a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food bank, and providing on a very limited basis financial assistance for rent, utility payments and transportation needs,” Henley said. “Now that the COVID-19 shutdown has hit our community, the need for all of Hope in Action services are even greater.”
But, the current HIA system can do only so much, he added.
“That’s where the HOPE for All: COVID-19 Relief Fund comes into play, by providing those additional funds that Hope in Action does not have,” Henley said.
Consequently, HOPE for All is a temporary call to action to assist residents of Hope and Hempstead County.
“The HOPE for All:COVID-19 Relief Fund will be used exclusively to provide supplemental food, funds for utility payments, funds for housing and funds for transportation needs to those affected by the pandemic,” Henley said.
HOPE for All: COVID-19 Relief Fund organizers, including Henley, Cook, and Wilson, are asking Hope and Hempstead County residents for contributions to put the concept into action. They said funds raised for HOPE for All will be deposited in a separate bank account created by Hope in Action. Funds will be solicited through individual volunteers and group contacts, as well as a “virtual fundraiser” set for May 21.
Donations may be mailed to Hope in Action, 606 W. Third St., Hope, Ar., 71801, or can be made directly to HOPE for All: COVID-19 Relief Fund at Farmer’s Bank, 201 E. Third St., or by mail to Farmer’s Bank at P.O. Box 520, Hope, Ar., 71802-0520. For information on donation account designation or other questions, please contact Catherine Cook at 870-703- 9811 or Hope In Action 777-8227 during business hours.
“I know that we will all rise to the occasion to help our fellow citizens in their time of need,” Wilson said.
Applications for HOPE for All subsidies will become available May 15, depending upon resources available at the time.