I Visited Hope Place
In this series, we're visiting Southeast's Mission Partners to understand their vision and how God is using them in the community.
By Carla Williams
As I drove through South Louisville on my way to Hope Place, I passed a Somali mosque, an Ethiopian pizza joint, two Vietnamese grocery stores, and a huge row of apartments for immigrants and refugees from all around the world. It’s an area full of diversity and cultures. The community also carries the weight of sustaining so many people, many of whom have experienced deep and lingering trauma. There’s crime, poverty, and hopelessness mixed in with the vibrancy of so many nations.
As a branch of the umbrella ministry Hope Collaborative, Hope Place is a natural haven of joy in the community for people who could easily be overlooked or lost. It’s where hope is made tangible. They are meeting physical, educational, social, and spiritual needs for some of the most vulnerable people in Louisville.
My visit to Hope Place could have been a chance to observe any number of these valuable services. I could have seen dance classes for all ages, ESL tutoring, math club, mentoring, or a women’s fitness class. I might have caught a worship service with people from Myanmar or East Africa. Or I could have learned from refugee women from around the world who support their families with beautifully crafted artisanal goods through Maya Collection. All of these things and so much more happen every week at Hope Place.
Summer Camp at Hope Place
When I arrived at Hope Place one early Summer morning, the building was already full of joyful, organized chaos. Parents were signing in their kids for a day of music camp while students were rushing in and out, eagerly catching up with friends and anticipating a great day. Laughter echoed throughout the building. I was immediately pulled into the event, where I was only too happy to load printers with paper for more camp applications or deliver new students to their classrooms.
As the flurry of activity began to settle, I made my way to where the students were being led by a volunteer camp team. Hope Place offered countless camps for the students this Summer, each with a special theme like music, dance, cooking, or construction. Each day includes lunch, and every session was adopted by local churches, which would send volunteer teams to oversee that day’s events. It was just one way that Hope Place is connecting local churches to the community.
On “Music Camp” day, a team from a local church brought worship and youth leaders who would teach the Hope Place campers how to play the drums, guitar, and recorder, plus make a musical windchime craft. As I wandered from group to group, each student was completely engaged and enthusiastic. The whole building was full of musical notes, metal wind chimes, and contagious laughter.
For many of these kids, an opportunity like that would be completely outside of their family’s reach, were it not for Hope Place. The Hope Place camps and school-year programs open affordable opportunities that could change the course of the lives of these students. Many of them moved to the U.S. after horrifying experiences that led their families to refugee camps around the world. They live in apartments packed with other vulnerable families, surrounded by regular reminders that they are not truly home.
That’s one reason Hope Place emphasizes trauma-informed care. They offer art and music therapy and teach mindfulness. Through those methods, and just by loving and seeing the students where they are, Hope Place is giving them the safe space to explore, process, and dream, while regularly reminding them of the God who created and loves them. It’s a modern-day way to obey Jesus’ command to let the children come to Him.
The Hope Place Team
With the piercing high notes from plastic recorders still ringing in my ears, I slipped quickly into Kristy’s office. She’s been the director of Hope Place since it launched last Summer, and she and her family joined the neighborhood when they moved to Louisville in 2016. They love South Louisville, and Kristy sees how much vibrancy and life the people who live there bring into everything they do.
While Kristy and her husband were serving as church planters in Atlanta several years ago, God gave Kristy the dream of one day running a ministry for outcast and vulnerable families. Now, at Hope Place, Kristy gets to see God fulfill that dream every day.
Kristy works collaboratively with Lindsay, who is also a resident of South Louisville. It was truly awe-inspiring to watch these amazing women, who sincerely love the community where they’re serving tirelessly to bring Christ’s light into the darkness. They love the neighborhood, but they also know and love each individual man, woman, and child who walks into Hope Place.
In addition to overseeing the building, programs, and church partnerships, Kristy and Lindsay are leading an impressive team of volunteers and interns. Almost everything Hope Place is able to provide is a direct result of a dedicated team of men and women who have stepped up for the neighborhood. Between the staff and volunteers, Hope Place is clearly creating the space for vulnerable people to find grace and community.
One of the most striking lessons I received from watching Kristy and Lindsay in action was their ability to balance vision and flexibility. Nothing can happen there without their determination to move forward, but they’re constantly being interrupted by the people literally in front of them.
When more people showed up than had registered for the camp, they stopped and found solutions. When a phone call came in about a woman they cared about, they took a break to listen and pray. When a camper’s dad was late in picking her up, they gave her a snack and settled her into their office with a coloring book.
I had the distinct impression that it’s Kristy and Lindsay’s very willingness to be interrupted that makes them so effective at Hope Place.
Often, the families in South Louisville are accustomed to being overlooked. They’ve been categorized and processed and systematically addressed. But at Hope Place, they are heard. They’re seen. And they are so loved. It’s the difference between finding a house and finding a home, between finding a neighborhood and finding a community.
Kristy and her team have visionary prayers for the future. They want to see more families mentored, more men and women worshipping God in their own language and style, and more children shaped by meaningful, Gospel-centered relationships. It’s a big dream. And while there are certainly obstacles and spiritual attacks, God is clearly at work in South Louisville. Hope Place will be there to serve Him—finding the forgotten, including the outcast, and celebrating the overlooked.
To learn more or get involved, visit facebook.com/hopeplace5007.