Situated across from St. Joseph Catholic Church and the Galliano bridge, sits the old State Bank building, which has remained shuttered over the last few years. This once thriving brick and glass building saw daily traffic from customers making deposits, withdrawals and financially securing their families’ future.
The bank is open again but this time without cash or tellers. This bank now uses hope and support as its currency and goes by the name of Hope Center.
Hope Center officially opens its doors in the old State Bank building on Saturday, October 18, but their presence has been felt in the community for some time now. Nearly 100 families and individuals have been helped through the Hope Center and its numerous programs.
“We were given the building by State Bank in December 2013,” says Reverend Morris Hunter, Jr., the Pastor at Christian Family Center located in the now-defunct Galliano Elementary School on Hwy. 308.
“By early May we had our permits and licenses and began assisting families,” he said. “Our grand opening is a way of officially announcing our presence and to let everyone know that Hope Center is here and here to serve.”
Reverend Hunter, or Brother Moe as he is often called, is entrusted as the caretaker of the Hope Center which belongs to the citizens of Lafourche Parish. It’s a dream of Brother Moe and a joint effort of Lafourche Parish churches – of all denominations.
“The Hope Center is a centralized location where all of our churches can send donations, resources and volunteers … one place to place all our combined resources and use them to address the needs of our community,” says Brother Moe. “The Hope Center is about people and the legitimate needs of those people. I am humbled to be entrusted as its caretaker,” he added.
“The Hope Center truly is a community function,” continued Brother Moe. “It’s not just one denomination … all of our churches coming together to better serve the needs of our community.”
This multi-denominational, coming together for the good of the community, sentiment is reflected monthly at the Hope Center. Clergy from various denominations and churches gathers for a monthly prayer breakfast on the second Thursday of every month.
“We had 12 clergy here for our breakfast this month,” Says Brother Moe. “It allows us to share and talk. It’s a really good time of fellowship. All clergy is invited to attend every month.”
Several children stopped in at the Hope Center on their way home from school. They live in the neighborhood behind the building and stop by regularly for a visit and a snack before heading home to face homework. They refer to Brother Moe as the “Pizza Man”, too. Brother Moe picks up the extra, mistake and wrong pizza orders from a local pizzeria and distributes them throughout the neighborhood behind the Hope Center.
“We do this weekly,” says Brother Moe. “We’ve given out nearly 700 pizzas so far this year. The need for food in our area is great,” he added.
“We help families with clothes, food, counseling and utilities financial assistance if they qualify,” he says. “But, the overwhelming need we see are families needing help with groceries. Tarpons for Christ at South Lafourche High School came by and donated three pick-up trucks full of food! Hope Center truly is a community initiative and community support has been great,” he said.
Hope Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They get no government funding or grants. All that Hope Center provides is through donations.
“We are not restricted by government regulations on rules about assistance and helping families. We rely entirely on donations and can use our resources as we best see fit. We can do the most good with what we have,” he says.
The bank’s vault is used, well, as a vault for clothing and shoes. Families come in and make withdrawals from the vault. There is an application process, just like at a bank. Once you have an account, you can come and make withdrawals and receive services. Nearly 30 families have already been helped with nearly 1,000 pieces of clothing and 20 to 30 blankets, all coming from the vault in a one-day clothing drive.
“We have donations here as well,” says Brother Moe. “We outgrew the vault!”
Sharing a roof and located next door to the Hope Center is an art studio and additional storage for donations. Children can create and play while their parents receive clothing or counseling. There are rooms behind the art studio filled with shoes, school uniforms and clothes for every sex, shape and size.
“We are truly excited about the blessings the Lord has bestowed on us,” he adds.
Hope Center is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located at 18100 East Main Street in Galliano. If you would like to volunteer, make a donation or receive services contact the Hope Center by phone at (985) 632-8938 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Tue, October 14, 2014
by Marc Kimball, Contributing Writer