I Visited Hope Southern Indiana
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
Back in 1964, a group of churches in New Albany, Indiana decided they wanted to work together to meet the needs of school-aged kids in the area. From that collaboration, the Downtown Neighborhood Council was created. Over the years, programs have been adapted, added, or removed to match the needs of the community, and today the ministry is known as Hope Southern Indiana.
Programs and Services
I didn’t have to visit Hope Southern Indiana very long before it was abundantly clear that they are serving the southern Indiana community in a lot of ways. They provide emergency assistance for rent and utilities, and they have a drop-in food pantry, so just those services are vital and important. But then they started telling me about all the other programs they’re overseeing, and I couldn’t believe how involved they are in the lives of the people around them.
Hope Southern Indiana hosts monthly block parties for the community with a variety of games, food, and entertainment. They provide a life-skills series called “Holistic Hardware” where their clients can learn everything from budgeting to healthy relationship skills.
Hope Southern Indiana also does several drives for the most vulnerable in their community. They organize churches and volunteers who provide school supplies, Christmas gifts, holiday meals, and the money to purchase back-to-school clothes for teens. They treat single moms to a day of pampering on Mother’s Day, and they host monthly gatherings for veterans.
After learning that teen girls in their area were especially vulnerable to depression and anxiety, Hope Southern Indiana began orchestrating a retreat and mentoring program for teenaged girls with serious self-esteem concerns. They held the first event at Country Lake Christian Retreat earlier this year, and they matched the girls with mentors from the community. The girls get to check in regularly with their mentor and are learning that they are lovely and valuable.
On top of all these services, Hope Southern Indiana also coordinates a huge effort called RSVP, which connects eager and able senior citizens with volunteer opportunities at local ministries and non-profit organizations.
The People of Hope Southern Indiana
When Hope Southern Indiana sees a need, they do everything in their power to meet the need or connect people to other ministries that can help even more effectively, and they do it all through the lens of the Gospel.
That’s one reason that the executive director, Angie, came to the ministry. She had been working with foster teens in an area shelter, and she believed she was meeting physical needs, but she longed to bring the saving grace of Christ into her clients’ lives. Angie knew they would never experience true hope or healing without God. Now, at Hope Southern Indiana, she gets to treat people holistically—combining physical needs with the greater gifts of emotional, relational, and spiritual guidance.
Soon, Angie recruited Kitty to come serve with her. Kitty became a Christian later in life, and she loves sharing the hope and grace she herself experienced when she discovered Christ’s love and sacrifice for her. Because of a long history of addiction and brokenness, Kitty knows what it’s like to be desperate, to need help, and to find healing in the open arms of a loving Father. When she talks with the clients who come to Hope Southern Indiana, there is no judgment in the conversation, even when the client is desperate and scared. She remembers those days all too well. Now she gets to oversee all the programs and events, where God uses her and the Hope Southern Indiana team to equip and encourage some of southern Indiana’s most vulnerable residents.
I also met with Tyler, who is a fresh addition to the Hope Southern Indiana team. He was a missions pastor in Las Vegas who now gets to equip and connect churches and local believers with the downtrodden right in their own backyard. Tyler loves discipling and developing the many volunteers who serve at Hope Southern Indiana each week—identifying their strengths and passions, and encouraging them in new and fulfilling ways. Hope Southern Indiana relies on a huge team of volunteers, and Tyler knows that as God grows the volunteers’ capacity, He will multiply the effectiveness of the ministry.
There were many more people walking around, serving vital roles at Hope Southern Indiana the day that I was there to visit. Volunteers sit at the front desk, serving as the welcoming face for those who come in for food or assistance. Another volunteer helped with administrative paperwork. There were volunteers organizing the pantry and making sure everything was fresh and ready. Another team of folks gathered the items for those who came in for an allotment of food, chatting casually and calmly with each person they served. There were even bags of easy foods for the homeless guests who came in hoping for a little sustenance. It’s clearly a ministry on the shoulders of men and women who simply love God and want to love His people.
At the end of the day, Hope Southern Indiana is a ministry that meets people where life has them with the love and grace of the Gospel, and then helps them walk forward one step at a time. It’s a ministry where the hopeless can go to find the truest spark of hope.
To learn more or get involved, visit hopesi.org.