Hope Line Coordinator Jim Pierce and Board President Karen Rice were welcomed into the fellowship hall of the Montague Grange in Sussex County, New Jersey during their monthly dinner on June 19, 2019. Mr. Pierce, the featured guest speaker of the evening, shared with the 50+ grange members in attendance information about the mission of Pike County Hands of Hope.
The Grange is a community minded organization with chapters in 41 states. Originally founded in 1867 with the purpose of promoting the political interests of the agricultural community, it also focuses on improving the lives of farmers and others in rural areas both socially and economically. (BTW, the word “grange” comes from an old English word meaning “farm estates”) Throughout the years the Grange has had to learn to adapt to modern lifestyles but the overall, the general mission, based on their original charter, remains the same:
“We ask none to join us who cannot see good in their fellow beings,” it reads, “but to all interested in Agriculture, who have generous hearts and open hands to help the needy, raise the fallen, and aid in making the labors of this life cheerful, we say, ‘Welcome to the Grange.’ ”
The members of the Montague Grange range in age from school-age children to older retirees. They have a community garden and monthly potluck meals among other activities throughout the year. These salt-of-the-earth people are friendly and welcoming, and were pleased to share their meal with Pike County Hands of Hope (yumm….pizza and ice cream party, to celebrate the birthday of The Grange!)
Pike County is just across the border from Sussex County. Some of the Grange members give of themselves by volunteering for Pike County organizations such as the Ecumenical Food Pantry. Since the two communities are in close proximity to one another, Mr. Pierce pointed out that many of the issues faced in Pike County are likely faced in Sussex County as well.
Mr. Pierce shared the following:
HOMELESS IN PIKE COUNTY
- There are homeless people in Pike County. There are people constantly on the brink of losing their house or apartment.
- Hands of Hope finds from 2 to 6 people living on the street or in the woods, totally without shelter, during the annual Point in Time Count every January.
- Both Delaware Valley and Wallenpaupack School systems in Pike County report from 10 to 30 students couch surfing with friends or distant relatives, without the benefit of a family home.
- Victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse flee their homes and abusers.
- The county magistrates courts legally evict 140-160 families a year from homes or apartments.
- In the “informal eviction” process: 300 families a year are forced out of their homes by landlord pressure, sale of homes or units, hazardous housing conditions (such as mold) and other reasons.
- One out of eight families who rent homes or apartments are likely to involuntarily lose their living space each year.
- Three percent of the population of Pike County becomes homeless at some point of the year.
Mr. Pierce continued by sharing that Pike County Hands of Hope provides help with emergency motel stays, referrals to shelters and other agencies, gift cards for gas and groceries, a monthly food distribution, and helps fund security deposits when an apartment is found but the client is unable to pay the security. Sometimes as little as $800 stands between someone having a home and being homeless.
A question was asked, “Is there a program similar to Hands of Hope in Sussex County?” Mr. Pierce responded by stating that while there is no program exactly like Pike County Hands of Hope in Sussex County, there are avenues of help for Sussex County residents, such as the Samaritan Inn, which is a homeless / emergency shelter in Newton. There is no homeless shelter in Pike County.
The PCHOH Hope Line occasionally receives calls from the homeless in Sussex County. They are referred to The Samaratin Inn and other agencies in place there which are able to assist them.
In conclusion, Mr Pierce stated that PCHOH relies on donations and volunteers from the community.
If you’d like to help Pike County Hands of Hope, please click here to donate, or visit this page to learn more about becoming a volunteer.
You can make a difference in the lives of the homeless in a big way with a small donation.