The Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka has become a second home for many of the immigrant, farmworker, and working poor families in the area, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the staff who run the programs have become their family. But as this family has grown over the years, they are short on space and limited parking forces many families to cross a busy street to reach the center’s doors. A new expansion plan will provide more space to serve more people.
“We have been holding summer camps for over 120 children in our center’s parking lot and we have 150 students attending classes, preparing to become U.S. citizens – to name just two very active programs” said Sister Ann Kendrick. “Clearly, the added space afforded in developing a second campus provides missional and programmatic opportunities that will benefit our community and for which we are truly grateful!”
Talk about expansion started more than a year ago when the leadership of Hope CommUnity Center was approached about negotiating a merger and acquiring a 7,200 square foot building with ample parking and six acres of land belonging to Apopka Family Learning Center. After many months of preparation, the property was acquired on February 5, 2016.
The newly acquired property which is located two and a half miles away from their campus is informally referred to by staff as Hope CommUnity Center South Campus. The new space will operate in conjunction with the current center but will offer new services to meet the needs of nearby residents. Over the past year the Center has served 6,250 people, a number that is now expected to grow when the new South Campus officially opens its doors this spring or summer.
Several key funders have come alongside Hope’s leadership in helping make this opportunity a reality. Last fall, the Walt Disney World Corporation presented Hope’s Board with a surprise grant of $250,000. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have made a significant contribution as well. And a new grant from the Marguerite Casey Foundation is enabling the Center to strengthen its outreach efforts through the Community Organizing and Service Learning programs.
“While we are feeling blessed,” said David Crump, Director of Operations at Hope, “we recognize that this is a moment of both opportunity and challenge. We are actively seeking to introduce our work to individuals and funders interested in partnering in this ministry of compassion and justice.”
“In this Year of Mercy,” reflected Sister Kendrick, “we are reminded of Pope Francis’ words that ‘there is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor.’ It is this vision of engaged faith that we seek to live out each day here at Hope CommUnity Center.”