EDMOND — EDITOR’S NOTE: As a public service to our community, this is the fourth in a series of five weekly articles for the annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive benefiting the HOPE Center of Edmond.
Every dollar given to the HOPE Center of Edmond goes a long way to help people experiencing an acute emergency.
“We are grateful for anything — just the support people show us,” said Chris Sperry, executive director.
Domestic violence, divorce, child abuse, disease, disability, unemployment and homelessness have been the main reasons people seek temporary assistance at HOPE, a nonprofit agency.
Single mothers make up HOPE Center’s primary client base. Balancing work with education and child care can become overwhelming for single mothers supporting themselves and their children, Sperry said.
Julie Rios, 34, is a single mother going through the process of divorce. She has two associate’s degrees.
Rios left her studies at the University of Central Oklahoma and her work with Clinique Cosmetics to care for her five boys and daughter at home. Her children range in age from 2-15. One of her children is disabled.
Rios said she was without support and turned to HOPE Center after the Edmond Police referred her there.
“I was surprised. They immediately took me in and talked to me and really reached out to me,” Rios said while preparing for a job interview at a bank.
“They didn’t have prejudice towards me or look bad upon me. They just were welcoming, supportive and kind,” Rios said.
HOPE provided her daughter with a birthday doll. HOPE didn’t have to reach out to her with counseling, but they did, she said. One of her children has food allergies, so the HOPE volunteers let her choose the items she needed.
“They gave me flour and that was just really, really helpful. I do a lot of cooking from scratch,” Rios said.
Rios said she appreciates the community support of the Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive. All of the proceeds from the annual Edmond Sun Christmas Samaritan Fund Drive will allow the HOPE Center to keep up with an increase in clients qualifying for emergency assistance. This year’s goal is to raise $165,000.
Sperry said it is amazing that people are generous, willing to take care of their neighbors when money is tight.
“I am blessed with wonderful children and they were so loving and appreciative when we got food in. It was like Christmas time,” Rios said. “The residents of Edmond are amazing to really want to help someone in need.”