An organization that aims to help people is being hurt by vandalism and theft.
New HOPE, formerly Family Services, is home to a shelter for abused individuals, as well a place for people to get multiple services including but not limited to court advocacy, domestic violence protective orders, hospital accompaniment, support groups and case management.
“We help the schools. We help anybody that comes to us who is low income. DSS sends people to us and it’s hard for us to keep up with giving away all the free stuff without making any money,” said Executive Director Jennifer Beaty. “We are very frustrated when we are giving back and we can’t get anywhere.”
One of the many issues this organization is facing is theft and vandalism at their thrift stores on East Court Street and Rutherford Road. The stores are called Fabulous Finds, and the money goes toward the non-restrictive funds of the organization’s budget to help people who are struggling.
“One thing we want people to know about our resale shops that is different from others is that we are one of the only ones, besides Community Thrift, who do clothing vouchers for the entire county,” said Beaty. “Whatever comes into our shop stays in the county. They come here for whatever they need, and we write them a free clothing voucher to get assistance.”
The theft and vandalism has gotten so bad the employees drive by the stores at all hours to make sure there aren’t donations sitting outside because of pilfering. Windows have been damaged, donations gone through and stolen and registers broken.
“It’s just every weekend that when our workers get there in the morning, everything is gone, or it’s just trashed because they have went through them and thrown them everywhere,” said Program Director Cassee Nelson. “Vandalism at Rutherford Road store is an every week kind of thing. At East Court, we have a building where people can put their donations, and people will go in there and sleep.”
The stores have had to decrease their hours due to the lack of volunteers and cost of repairs. The New Hope staff said they have even fielded calls from donors who have seen their donated items being resold on online yard sales.
“What people evidently don’t realize is that they may have a need, but they are taking from people that have a need,” said New Hope’s Board of Director’s President Jo Pyatt.
And as theft and vandalism have increased, donations have gone down.
The shelter was closed for several months because they couldn’t pay their employees. Beaty and Pyatt said after sending out hundreds of letters asking for support during the holiday season, only a handful were returned with donations.
“We had to close the shelter for two months. We still did our services, but to house one woman costs $30 a day, and we didn’t have the funding to support the employees,” said Beaty. “But we are back up and running at full capacity.”
Pyatt is seeking new volunteer board members to help govern the organization. The board currently has about six members, and they can have up to 12.
“They would meet once a month and help govern finances and help fund raise about three times a year,” said Pyatt. “I would like to see more volunteers at the resale shops, contributions to the overall work of the shelter and I would like to see an increase in the board of directors up to full capacity.”
New Hope holds the No Excuse for Abuse 5K every summer, as well as the Holiday Expo shopping day at the Community building. With a budget of $245,000 to run the shelter, those fundraisers are a drop in the bucket to match their grants. Last year, the organization didn’t make a profit from the thrift stores. They also don’t have any corporate sponsorship as many other non-profits do.
Nelson said the organization is willing to go out and educate the public on what they do and the need in the community.
Beaty said the organization has seen an increase in domestic violence and sexual assault. If the shelter closes, many would have nowhere else to turn.
“When you see a lady who has nothing, and so beat down to the ground, that she can no longer even believe in herself, and you watch her build herself back up… that’s the best feeling in the whole world,” said Kendra Burns, client service advocate.
To learn more about New HOPE, visit newhopeofmcdowell.org, call their office at 652-8538, or visit them on Facebook. The crisis line is 652-6150.