The most delicious way to support the HOPES Center is by attending its annual bake sale from 8 a.m. to noon today at the West Racine Farmers Market. The market is located at the corner of West Boulevard and Washington Avenue.

The center’s troupe of bakers, which includes members of the Sisters of St. Dominic at Siena Center, have perfected local recipes for breads, bars, cookies, pies and brownies. In addition to treating a person’s taste buds, purchases from the bake sale will support the ongoing provision of its services to the poor and people experiencing homelessness in Racine County.

Street outreach

The HOPE Center’s hallmark service is street outreach. For people experiencing homelessness to achieve housing stability, they need to know their options. If they are currently living in places not meant for human habitation, the center’s goal is to find them and earn their trust. This often takes a significant amount of time.

Four nights a week street outreach teams explore the nooks and crannies of Racine County checking in at spots they know people frequent while always looking for new places and faces. Outreach occurs on a regular schedule. During the hot and humid weather in July, the torrential rainstorms of April, the bitter cold of February and every other month, HOPES outreach teams are making their rounds and meeting people. The center has recently expanded its weekly schedule to include Western Racine County, improving its ability to find and fortify those who need permanent housing.

In all cases, the street outreach team at HOPES works to treat every person with dignity and respect. Traditionally, to access program resources a potential participant needs to come to the center office for services or a housing referral. This can be a barrier, particularly for those with mental illness. Street outreach teams are now able to complete housing assessments and referrals in the field where they meet people.

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Community partnerships

The center’s work does not happen in a vacuum. Community partnerships are an essential part of who they are and what they do. For example, while teams search for people living without housing at night, the work of their colleagues at the Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization allows them to offer the option of shelter.

Similarly, while the HOPES Center can be an option for receiving mail or using a computer, its friends at the Hospitality Center are providing regular opportunities for a midday meal and clothing, as well as haircuts. These and many other organizations make up the Homelessness and Housing Alliance of Racine County. This indispensable coalition connects diverse groups providing housing services and works to identify and fill gaps in service throughout Racine County.

Be a volunteer

Volunteers are always needed to support the HOPES Center. Options are diverse and wide-ranging including reception, street outreach, baking, grant writing or whatever a person’s talent might be. Call HOPES Center at 262-898-2940 and staff will help a person identify a good fit for their interests.

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