EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: As a public service to our community, this is the last in a series of five weekly articles for the annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center of Edmond.
The HOPE Center of Edmond is saving grace for Marc Kennedy and his family, he said.
“They speak life into you,” Marc Kennedy said. “It makes a world of difference.”
HOPE is a temporary food and clothing closet for individuals and families facing acute emergencies. Families no longer have to choose between buying food, paying a utility bill, prenatal care and immunizations for their children, said Chris Sperry, executive director.
Kennedy’s income is sporadic as he works construction part time. He lost his job as an armed guard in April after becoming incarcerated for 22 days due to child support from a previous marriage, he said. He and his current wife, Lorrie, live in Edmond with their two daughters, 4-year-old Willow and Madison, 2.
“Personally for myself — I’m coming out of a 20-year ruin,” Kennedy said. “The last three years I’ve been digging myself out of a hole. I was an addict for 21 years using methamphetamine, using the needle. I’ve been off the needle just trying to be a productive citizen.”
Kennedy dialed 211, a number created by the United Way to refer people in crisis to humanitarian resources. He was referred to HOPE for its federal nutrition program for women, infants and children. Also, Edmond Family Counseling is across the hall in the same building.
“HOPE is a large group of people that are really sympathetic and kind of know what people are going through,” Kennedy said. “…They don’t just say, ‘Here you go. See you later.’ They actually talk to you and hear what you’ve got to say.”
HOPE provided the family with diapers and food. Ten days later he received a follow-up call from HOPE, with names and addresses of local businesses who were hiring.
Lorrie is also without employment after having a job doing auto detail. She is trying to find a job that pays more than minimum wage, a salary that will not support two children, she said. Lorrie wants to work in an attorney’s office. So she will attend the Moore-Norman Technology Center in January for training.
“I’m trying to go back to school to get a better career so I can make more money and be a better mother,” she said.
HOPE Center is made possible by community support. More than $3.08 million in emergency assistance for those in need has been provided by the center’s generous supporters since The Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive began in 1989. This year’s goal of $165,000 will continue to provide more than one-third of the non-profit HOPE Center’s $400,000 budget.
“Just the other day I was out of gas. Like I said, I’ve made a lot of bad choices in life where I’ve had to come forth and say, ‘Sir, can you spare a dime?’” The stranger filled his truck with $75 of gas and told Kennedy that HOPE Center provides gas cards.
“I never thought of that — but it’s just amazing — the generosity of the citizens of Edmond,” Kennedy said.
The gas card was a one-time event but was helpful, Lorrie said. A Christmas sponsor brought them a Christmas tree and a chicken dinner.
“It makes the world of difference,” Kennedy said. “…They’re Christian people. I feel that presence 100 percent.”