Springfield nonprofit expands, serves more meals to students, families

A Springfield nonprofit has expanded their reach during the coronavirus pandemic by providing over six times the number of meals they usually distribute to students and families in need.

“I am amazed at the Springfield community - the way that restaurants, businesses, individuals, have just been so generous in all of their donations of food and volunteers,” Jackie Mounts, executive director of H.O.P.E said.

H.O.P.E is providing free lunches and dinners Monday through Friday at 705 Linden Ave. Lunches consisting of sandwiches are distributed noon to 1 p.m. and hot dinners are distributed 4 to 5 p.m.

One day last week, H.O.P.E provided 200 lunches and 200 dinners to the Clark County community, Mounts said.

Usually, H.O.P.E serves dinner three times a week to their teen center, Rock of Hope. The teen center consists of about 50 sixth though 12th grade students.

“When school was announced that it would be closed for three weeks we knew that was going to be a real problem for our kids,” Mounts said.

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H.O.P.E partnered with DreamCity Church to provide two meals a day to their teens and the community.

“We’re going to keep doing it as long as we can and as long as the kids are out of school,” Mounts said.

The food program is continuing to grow thanks to over 50 volunteers, businesses and restaurants.

Last week, H.O.P.E distributed 900 meals in four days. This week the total is expected to be a lot more, Mounts explained.

Her passion for teens was elevated when she held weekly sessions encouraging the youth at the Clark County Detention Center to think about the spiritual aspect of life.

“As I started doing that, there was a God given passion for these kids that rose up inside of me and I knew I had to do more,” Mounts said.

She resigned from being a counselor and teacher at Springfield City Schools 15 years ago and began developing programs for the youth full-time - including the teen center.

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The teen center’s food program was created by Micah Myers, a Springfield volunteer.

“He’s the one that began the food program at the teen center originally and has been the driving force in keeping it going at the teen center,” Mounts said.

She explained that Myers joined H.O.P.E as a Christmas party volunteer, but after seeing teens stuff peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into their pockets at the teen center to take home to their families, he knew something needed to be done.

He devoted himself to H.O.P.E’s meal program.

Pastor Victor Lawwill at DreamCity Church and Matt Perrine, assistant director at H.O.P.E have also contributed greatly to the current feeding program, Mounts said.

“It’s amazing how God can bring good things from tough situations - that’s what I am seeing,” Mounts said. “My ultimate goal is that the kids feel and recognized they are loved.”

H.O.P.E is a nonprofit organization helping the youth and their families connect with God for the purpose of making healthier and wiser life choices.

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