Fundraiser provides HOPE to survivors

Lynnsey Veach, Contributing Writer

A local organization advocating for survivors of domestic violence is hosting its annual Bowls of HOPE fundraiser Tuesday evening, an event its executive director said is crucial for the organization.

Housing, Outreach, Prevention and Education of East Central Illinois is an organization that strives to help people who face life-threatening situations because of domestic violence.

Althea Pendergast, the executive director of HOPE, said the organization provides services to clients with money from the state and events such as Bowls of HOPE contribute to the budget as well.

However, the state is now in its second year without a full budget, leaving social services without funding.

Nearly eight months ago, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a stopgap budget to provide temporary relief to the state, but HOPE and similar organizations have not received funding from it.

“This means we are really relying on community support,”  Pendergast said.

Without funding from the state, Pendergast said the organization hopes to see a great turnout at Bowls of HOPE.

“Bowls of HOPE provides funds so that we can continue our services, which include our emergency shelter, adult and child counseling, legal advocacy, outreach, transitional housing, crisis hotline services and prevention,” Pendergast said.

The organization consists of two housing programs, an emergency shelter and transitional homes through local apartments.

Angie Hunt, director of the housing program at HOPE, said the organization not only provides safety to clients, but also gives women a chance at a new beginning.

“We don’t just want to serve our clients,” Hunt said, who has worked at HOPE for over 16 years. “We want to end domestic violence.”

The 14th annual Bowls of HOPE will be from 5-7 p.m. at the Wesley United Methodist Church.

Attendees will be able to purchase tickets for a $15 soup dinner. The public can also purchase handmade bowls by local artists for $5.

Bowls of HOPE will also include a dessert auction and live entertainment from musicians Five Mile Train.

Jessica Johnson, board president of HOPE, said Bowls of HOPE not only brings the community together, but also provides necessary funds for the organization to help clients.

“The money that is donated during this event goes directly into supporting our clients, helping them get back up on their feet,” Johnson said. “Sometimes when survivors come to us, they have nothing but the clothes they’re wearing.”

Don Dawson, a HOPE board member, said the organization has always looked out for local women facing abuse as well as children.

“HOPE helps not only the person, but especially the children, from these broken families,” he said.

Johnson said clients face a variety of difficult situations, and fundraisers like Bowls of HOPE allow the organization to house and protect them.

“We do our best to give (clients) the resources they need,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s in the form of getting a state ID, or providing them with legal advocacy or children’s advocacy or a safe place to stay to help them escape the violence.”

Pendergast said Bowls of HOPE is a chance for the community to come out and show its support for the organization’s work.

“It’s a family event, everyone is welcome and we get a chance to celebrate all that HOPE does for the community,” she said.

Johnson said the community has proven its compassion for many years.

“Each year we are tickled to see familiar faces that have come year after year,” Johnson said. “We also see new people who are curious about HOPE and all the services we provide.”

This year local businesses will be donating food and drinks for the fundraiser, including What’s Cookin’, Roc’s Blackfront, WB’s Pub ‘n Grub, the Brick House Bar & Grill in Charleston,  Richard’s Farm of Casey and the Alamo of Mattoon.

Tickets for Bowls of HOPE will be available at the door or the public can order them by calling 348-5931.

Lynnsey Veach can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]