Community of Hope, St Peter’s Church, Spotswood
Community of Hope Ministries (CoHM), at St Peter’s Church in Spotswood, is an all volunteer non-profit organization helping people in need in Spotswood and the surrounding areas. It serves all people who come to them for help and does not discriminate in anyway. Founded in 2005, Community of Hope has offered services through the five ministries described below.
At the end of 2010, CoHM was awarded a $2500 Jubilee Grant from the Episcopal Church for a new ministry for the prevention of homelessness, This ministry will be called ‘Naomi’s Hope’, based on the mother-in-law in the Book of Ruth who found herself homeless after her husband and sons died. The near term focus of Naomi’s Hope is to help prevent homelessness among households facing eviction. Longer term, Naomi’s Hope is looking to find housing for women are leaving shelters for abuse women.
Churches United for People (CUP) Food Pantry Started in the 1990s as a ministry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Spotswood Reformed Church, and Trinity United Methodist Church, the pantry receives continued support from these same churches,
along with grants and donations from the community and local businesses. Clients visit the pantry once a month and receive a five-dollar grocery card when funds are available. Because Community of Hope is a 501(c)(3) organization, we are eligible to acquire food from the state-sponsored food banks, a significant benefit to CUP and their clients.
In 2010, about 140 households utilized the pantry each month, receiving a monthly allotment of two shopping bags of groceries that they select themselves. These households comprised approximately 200 adults and 112 children. In addition, they often received perishable items — eggs, cheese, margarine, meat, sandwiches from Starbucks, fresh produce from local farms and gardens through AmpleHarvest.org, or bread from Shop Rite of Spotswood — when available.
Backyard Gardeners Community of Hope Ministries is partnering with AmpleHarvest.org to help home gardeners use their surplus to feed people in need. Fresh produce is a luxury that most food pantries cannot afford. By contacting Community of Hope Ministries or going on AmpleHarvest.org, gardeners will now have a worthwhile outlet for their abundant harvest.
Community Fellowship Suppers About 15 years ago St. Peter’s Church began a ministry of opening its doors once a week to provide fellowship and a nutritious home cooked dinner to people in the community. This weekly experience continues today and has become a staple for many. These suppers are supported by St. Peter’s Church, as well as grants and donations of time, talent, and treasure of many people. Meals are enthusiastically served by the youth of the community, giving them an early experience of service. For the year 2010, we served 7,014 dinners!
Case Management This ministry helps individuals and families on a personal one-on-one basis. Community of Hope has two licensed social workers to help people find assistance for food, energy, mortgage and rent, senior services, and the like. We also provide advocacy for those unable to negotiate the system and apply for assistance. In addition, we have a psychologist who will provide testing for children whose parents suspect they have a learning disability. All of these services are provided at no cost.
Income Tax Assistance In 2009, Community of Hope Ministries began to assist people of low income to file their Federal and New Jersey State tax returns. A key component of this program is to encourage families with children to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit and similar benefits that ultimately provide purchase power to the individual and bring financial resources to help build the local economy.
During the first quarter of 2011, the Community of Hope Ministries
• Served 1,228 people at the Community Fellowship Suppers
• Worked with 246 volunteers
• Assisted 993 people with food from the Food Pantry
• Solicited funds in order to prevent eviction
• Assisted several clients with problems with Medicare, Medicaid and Family Care
• Linked clients with free medical and dental services
• Assisted a client with a resumé, which lead to a part-time job
• Linked a client with nutritional counseling
• Linked a client with home visitor
If you’d like to know more about Community of Hope, have a look at the St Peter’s Church, Spotswood website. Or email Alyce Ryan, Director, Community of Hope or Ms. Clara Gregory, Diocesan Jubilee Officer.