Saturday, January 30, 2010

46% Increase in Clients

Hope House volunteers have lots of explanations for busy days. It's the end of the month, people have run out of social security money, it's sunny out, it's Thursday, it's Friday, it's Monday, it's Tuesday...well, you get the idea. Lately, Hope House has seen busy days every day.

Whether it is Friday or Tuesday, lines are forming outside the red door more and more often. The waiting room is almost always full, and the coffee thermos almost always in need of a refill.

In 2009, Hope House saw a 46% increase in clients. Hope House served 3,125 families (13,1333 individuals) in 2008. In 2009 we served 5,743 families (15,015 individuals). With this dramatic increase in clients, Hope House saw increases in all services provided.

Hope House gave out more of everything last year, including a 31% increase in hygiene items, a 26% increase in diapers, and an 18% increase in pounds of food provided to clients. As these numbers show, Hope House is finding and filling a niche, particularly with hygiene items and diapers. These items cannot be purchased with food stamps, are costly, are rarely available at reduced prices or free and are necessities. We are becoming one of the main emergency suppliers of hygiene items and diapers to all of Whatcom County.

Some clients are familiar faces at Hope House, who have been struggling for a while, and who need an occasional boost at the end of the month when funds are stretched. Some clients are new, from out of town or out of work. Some clients received help five or six years ago and have not needed Hope House again until now. In-take volunteers are digging up old records more often.

Hope House Street Outreach has witnessed a similar rise in need. In 2008, Hope House Street Outreach delivered an average of 40 to 50 lunches a week. In 2009, the average jumped to 65 lunches a week. Street Outreach vans are running out of sandwiches more quickly these days.

With Whatcom County unemployment at 8.1%, and having been over 7% since January of 2009, it is understandable that more people are in need of help. According to US Census estimates, over 15% of Whatcom County Residents live below the poverty line.

The good news is that donations are rising to meet the demand; miraculously, Hope House shelves remain stocked thanks to the generosity of our community. Volunteers worked 16% more hours in 2009 than in 2008.

Supported by volunteers and donations, Hope House is expanding to meet the rising need. We are now open on Wednesdays from 2 - 4:30. Hope House continues to rely heavily on donor support, receiving a large portion of its operating budget from generous donors. ♥

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