It’s easy to drive by the Center of Hope in downtown Sioux Falls and not notice it’s there. And perhaps that’s fitting for an organization that serves people every day who feel just like that, invisible to the traffic streaming toward the 10th Street overpass or pulling away from the post office. Center of Hope guests ride bikes and pushing strollers past the windows of winter coats along the tall brick building. On the day of our visit, a man in his 50s smiles kindly under his hat and holds the door. A mother follows us in with her school-aged son in tow.
Inside, employees greet guests like old friends. Families shop through racks of clothes, look over work boots, and visit at the desk. Again it would be easy to presume this first impression was all the Center had to offer. But through the swinging doors, one finds a chain of rooms where the deeper work begins.
A doorway opens to a room filled with handmade quilts, baby clothes, diapers and other essentials for new mothers and infants. This is the home of the Mother/Baby Baskets, a project of the Center of Hope Faith Community Nurses, and the reason for our visit.
According to Nursing Coordinator Maddie Borah, RN, when a new mother comes in to the Center of Hope, she receives a Mother/Baby Basket containing items donated and compiled by volunteers. Nurses also provide basic child wellness and safety information. When a mother mentions her child is sick, the first question is often, “Do they have a fever?” The nurses found most mothers could not answer because they didn’t have a thermometer. The nurses endeavored to find an accurate, low-cost thermometer to include in every Mother/Baby Basket, but struggled to afford the item. When Davenport Evans became aware of the need, we were quick to make it our June 80th Anniversary item, donating 80 of the select digital thermometers. (Click here to support the Center of Hope Faith Community Nurses.) The Center of Hope employs two Faith Community Nurses, a type of nursing that promotes health and minimizes illness through education on topics like diabetes, mental health, addiction and care for mother and baby. This approach can reduce emergency room visits and provide early intervention for many who may not otherwise seek care.
Women and children are not the only people receiving help at the Center of Hope. Like thermometers, bicycles came up as a common need for guests, particularly for men, and soon led to a full program at the Center of Hope. “It started out with a couple of men needing a bike to get to work,” recalled Pastor Calvin Ver Mulm, “We helped them find a low-cost option, and felt it was good for them to purchase their bikes for a sense of ownership. Then we helped them maintain them. The need and the program just grew from there.” Today, the bike ministry puts hundreds of bikes on the road each year, and keeps them rolling. Transportation is a key component to getting life back on track for those whom have struggled with addiction, physical and mental illness, and homelessness.
The bike shop is found upstairs, equipped with salvaged parts and rebuilt bicycles. Bike owners can use the tools at the Center of Hope to fix their bikes but they must do their own repairs, so volunteers are needed to work alongside them and teach repair work. This is also a great opportunity to build relationships. The shop is run by Bike Ministry Pastor Adam Hofer and Bike Mechanic and Trainer Steve Johnson, himself a double amputee who rides a three-wheeler. Adam and Steve are providing Center of Hope guests the ability and encouragement to get to work and other obligations, in sun or South Dakota snow. They are always looking for more bikes at 24 inch rim size or larger, bike parts, and helmets. Click here to support the Center of Hope Bike Ministry.
Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, LLP, located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is one of the State’s largest law firms. The firm’s attorneys provide business and litigation counsel to individuals and corporate clients in a variety of practice areas. For more information about Davenport Evans, visit www.dehs.com.