Bringing Hope to the Homeless
With media attention primarily focused on the more sensational and dramatic crises existing in America, the ongoing plight of the rural poor can be pushed out of the public spotlight. In the midst of other national and international issues, it is easy to forget about the daily struggles of those suffering from chronic, generational poverty within our nation.
Hope Force International seeks to call attention to this issue by maintaining a presence in West Virginia, a state where poverty has penetrated deeply into the community ethos over a period of decades. To show its commitment to Americans living in chronic poverty, HFI established a permanent team house in War, West Virginia. This house allows teams of Reservists to be deployed on a regular basis for ministry in this area where, for many, hopelessness is a way of life.
?"It'?s difficult to grasp how hopelessness can cause lives to plummet to depths of impoverishment that most of us cannot believe exists here in the US,?" HFI staffer Glenda Bashor said. ?"Just as years, and even generations, tax an individual?s self-worth, and their value is undermined to the place of despair we see in remote areas of West Virginia, so it will also take years, and maybe even generations, for hope and intrinsic worth to be realized in the lives of these precious Americans.?"
Glenda was on a deployment to West Virginia in July of this year. She and the rest of the team were able to provide practical assistance to West Virginians living in chronic poverty.
"?I did not realize the relevance of hope and the effect it has on humanity until I saw the effects of its absence: the lifeless despondency, the disinterest in activity around the home, and the inability to work, much less a desire to do what is necessary to bring in income,?" Glenda said. "?On the flip side, it is just as difficult to conceive how a simple act can stir up enough hope in the heart of an individual to change their perspective and ultimately their destiny.?"
As they provided practical assistance in West Virginia, Glenda and the other Reservists she served with had the opportunity to develop skills such as flooring and window installation, and applying sheetrock to ceilings. Beyond the physical labor, Glenda also interacted with the community by playing with children, spending time with homeowners, and working with locals in acts of service.
"?It is these seemingly insignificant acts that grow hope in the hearts of those impoverished by hopelessness, as well as those who are conduits of these acts,"? Glenda said. ?"When hope is offered through simple, honorable acts of service, life flows, creating joy, gratefulness, value, worth, wonder, empowerment to make little changes, as well as hope to risk ? risk caring, risk reaching out when rejection is possible, risk opening one?s heart, risk living beyond where one currently lives. Hope, our core value, our activity, our life source. As volunteers, we experience all this and more.?"
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