The meaning of ‘hope’ at Hope CenterBy Kimberly Greager
Native Sun News Today Correspondent
nativesunnews.today RAPID CITY- What does the word “hope” mean? The dictionary defines hope as a noun - a feeling that what is desired can be had; or a verb - to believe, desire and trust. For hundreds of people in Rapid City, hope exists in a little brick building downtown at a place called the HOPE Center. The HOPE Center is a drop-in day center for the homeless and poverty-stricken members of the community. Located downtown at 615 Kansas City Street, the HOPE Center is open Monday through Friday and offers vital services and supplies to people in need. “We are relationship based and are working daily to provide unique, unduplicated and crucial services to our guests, which are all customized for each person. Our goal is to build bridges out of poverty and to be a trusted source of support for the community,” said Anna Quinn, the Executive Director of the HOPE Center. One of the most essential services offered is a mail center; people who do not have a permanent mailing address can use the HOPE Center’s address to receive their mail. Currently, there are more than 2,600 individuals in Rapid City that are registered to use the HOPE Center as their permanent mailing address. An average of 160 people (including 10 children) come to the HOPE Center every day to get personal hygiene items and other supplies, to attend a class or do laundry, or just to come in out of the cold and have some coffee or play a game of cribbage. Relying on donations from the community, the HOPE Center gives out hundreds of hygiene kits every week that include items like soap and shampoo, toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and tampons or maxi pads for women. In addition to various supplies, the HOPE Center also provides educational opportunities like classes including AA, life skills, computers, health, cooking, sewing, beading and arts and crafts. The center also offers a mentoring program and has a full-time client advocate to work one-on-one with people to help them navigate their individual situations. Among the homeless population in Rapid City, Native Americans are overrepresented and make up 70% to 80% of the people who utilize the HOPE Center’s services. Many people leave the reservations and come to Rapid City in search of something more, only to find themselves struggling. In cities with the highest populations of Native Americans per capita, Rapid City has the highest number living in poverty, with over 50% of the Native American population here living in poverty. “I believe here in Rapid City, the combination of a lack of affordable housing, low wages, high rates of poverty, and historical trauma lead to the overrepresentation of Native Americans within the homeless demographic,” said Quinn.