Meet Marla – A Friend of HOPE House
Every so often, you come across a soul who seeks to find ways to make a difference – and does these things because they feel it is right. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to one of those souls.
Marla is a long-term volunteer at HOPE House, where prior to COVID-19, she was working in our clothing market alongside her friend Sue. Together they formed “the dynamic duo.”
What started as a way to just give back, turned into creating an experience for the community members at HOPE House. Recognizing that some of the members may not have the necessary resources to do the whole “in-store shopping experience,” Marla and Sue made the clothing market capable of giving that experience. They would ask questions to discover what they were looking for, what styles, what their likes and dislikes were in regards to fashion – and really brought forth a personalized shopping experience. “We wanted people to feel like they were at a store – and not a charity.”
After spending 3 years in the clothing market, Marla began volunteering as a crisis worker for Victim Services – which in turn, meant she did have to take a step back from her time at HOPE House – due to time constraints. She realized she couldn’t do everything – but she was still able to collect items, and donate – and took on more of a “behind the scenes role.”
Most recently, Marla heard about our #sustainHOPE campaign, and our effort to raise the funds needed for our programs and services. Marla has since joined HOPE House as a Friend of HOPE House monthly donor, and when asked what sustain hope meant to her, this is what she had to say;
“Sustaining hope is more than just donating monthly though, it means knowing you can continue giving and helping people to live a happy healthy life with hope. Sustaining Hope is waking up everyday, to live a happy healthy life.”
By becoming a monthly donor, Marla is directly contributing to the continuance of programs and services at HOPE House – programs such as the clothing market.
Given the current crisis we are all facing due to COVID-19, things have become more difficult for everyone – but even more so for the community members HOPE House serves. When Marla became aware that we were doing food deliveries, she realized that more funds were needed to help offset some of these additional costs. In her mind, when you give monthly it assists the organization in predicting what’s to come. While one-time donations are always welcome, she knew that a sustained commitment was needed more – especially during these times.
While talking with Marla, I realized she had such a strong view on HOPE House and what it meant for the community. So I asked her the very simple question of “if you could explain what HOPE House does to someone, what would you say?” This was her response;
“HOPE House is its own little community, but it’s OUR community. It’s people like you and me. Some may be struggling a little more than others. Some are people who may have come into hard times, had not best of luck in their lives, and sometimes it’s the family we are born into. But HOPE House isn’t just the people that visit – it’s a safe place. Anyone and everyone is welcome. It’s a warm place to go when the weather outside is less than desirable. It’s a place to go when you need that feeling of love and acceptance that you aren’t necessarily used to getting.”
Marla’s sense of community and what HOPE House means to her was enough to put a smile on my face. It’s a sense that what we are doing matters – and not just to the community members, but to those who frequent the programs and services offered here.
In closing, I asked Marla if there was anything else she wanted to share with the community;
“I wish more people knew about the HOPE House building in Guelph. There is so much stigma around it, and I wish it would change. There is so much good about what HOPE House is, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.”