MOUNT VERNON — In a blink of an eye, everything can be lost from jobs to homes to furniture, but with charitable organizations like HopeNow, even the simplest of needs in furniture and cookware can be replaced.
HopeNow developed from the assiduous efforts of Linda Aikman as a project to aid women of the New Directions Domestic Abuse Shelter. Aikman’s personal involvement with the shelter encouraged her in a way she has never forgotten.
“They helped me begin a new life, I felt a real need to give back,” she said.
In 2006, Aikman learned that household goods were a necessity among women and their children trying to get themselves re-established.
“I learned many of the women who came to the shelter had nothing as their husbands or boyfriends would destroy everything — all their clothes, the kids’ toys, and any of their belongings — so the women had nothing to start over with,” she said.
With such a big project to take on, Aikman knew she needed help so she then went to her congregational president, Dick Anderson, of Faith Lutheran Church, who agreed to help. And before she knew it, more people stepped up and got involved.
“And those people are still with us today,” Aikman said. “But if we would have known this would have grown so much, I don’t know if we would have had the courage to do this.”
Initially, HopeNow collected furniture and household goods in a small storage unit, assisting an average of four to five families a month. However, as the need drastically grew, so did the donations, and a larger storage facility was needed.
“We moved four times before we settled in this place,” said Art Schad, storage center manager. “We went from helping four to five families a month to 40 to 50 families a month.”
The current facility is a 3,200-square-foot warehouse located on Mount Vernon Avenue.
Several years ago the economy took a dive resulting in a loss of jobs and many companies laying off employees. “There was an enormous surge in need,” said Aikman.
HopeNow responded to the growing need and opened its door to the entire county.
Last year alone, HopeNow assisted more than 520 families with bedding, dressers, sofas, chairs, lamps and tables. In addition, the organization collected household linens, curtains and drapes, small kitchen appliances, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, televisions, microwaves, and small rugs as a way to supply home furnishings for those in need free of charge.
Word of mouth and referrals from Interchurch Social Services, Salvation Army, and the Red Cross have helped to spur HopeNow onward in their goal to help the community.