Most people probably think of The Hope Chest as a great place to get a bargain on home décor or ladies clothing. And that is certainly true. But the real blessing of The Hope Chest is not to be found in the items on the shelves. Rather, it is the people involved that make The Hope Chest special – our volunteers, donors, staff, interns, and customers, who come together each week in a captivating mix of interactions where stories are shared, transactions are completed, and lives are touched in a unique way.
The Hope Chest opened in 2014 as a place where local residents could donate their gently used items and customers could shop for treasures. Proceeds support the programs of Center of Hope. But the true purpose of The Hope Chest is to extend our job training program by offering a six-month paid internship. This on-the-job training provides students a chance to learn valuable skills and gain real life work experience while benefiting from the relational support of our staff and volunteers.
Madison is our most recent Hope Chest intern. Now in the 5th month of her assignment, she applied for the internship because she had been out of the workforce for almost two years and her previous work had been in a fast food restaurant. She wanted to learn skills to prepare her for a job in the retail or grocery industry. Since she started at The Hope Chest, she has learned, “…even when the workload is overwhelming, when everyone pulls together, we can get it done.”
“Maddie” says her work at The Hope Chest has helped her realize although people come from different walks of life and have different ideas about how to do something, they can find common ground when there’s a job to do. “I am not as fidgety and nervous talking to people now. I have learned how to communicate and deal with all types of people and personalities.” In addition to her internship, Maddie has also taken several job training courses. These classes, along with sessions with her life coach, have prepared her to take the next step.
As the conclusion of her internship nears, she is busy preparing for the next chapter of her life. Maddie is taking a computer class, working on her resume, and applying for jobs. We are confident that her time at The Hope Chest has prepared her to take the next step, and as a result of the relationships she’s developed over the past few months, she will always be a part of the Center of Hope family.