Chapter 12: Hope Unlimited
Made Possible By Independence Bank
By Jamies Sears Rawlings
There are trillions of “parents” in the world. In all walks of life, in all stages of life, there are parents–fathers with one young child and mothers with many children that she’s seen through lifetimes of their own.
Despite the sheer number of us out there, parenthood is not an easy job. Consider a teenager who has just found out that he or she will become a parent. Think, for a moment, about the young father who has no experience with children finding out that he will soon be responsible for the care of his own. Put yourself in the place of a stay-at-home-mom who spends all her time and energy pouring love into her children, neglecting her own needs.
Parenting is a blessing and a huge responsibility. Doing it alone or with very little support can take away the ability to see hope for a successful and positive future.
How comforting then, that when you search for the words “hope unlimited in Paducah,” the website you visit flashes such an important sentiment at the very beginning:
You are not alone.
Indeed, that is the mission of the Hope Unlimited Family Care Center in Paducah and Metropolis—to help every family…every mother and every father…know that they are no alone, no matter their circumstances.
For Executive Director Nicole Farley and her staff, that is the first step that they endeavor to reach with the clients who visit their center.
“When we meet with clients, it is our mission to help them feel valued and to know that we are here for them,” Nicole says.
“They go so many places that they feel judged for where they are or the things that have happened in their life.”
“We are not here to judge, but to love them where they are.”
“Where Hope Unlimited’s clients are” can be literally any place along the spectrum of parenthood. With support groups for those who have lost or aborted babies, pregnancy tests and pre-natal care for those who are expecting children, parenting support to reunify families who have been torn apart, and education for parents of children of any age, Hope Unlimited serves families, no matter their situation.
In 2018, the Center worked with 458 moms and 121 dads in the Paducah and Metropolis communities. They provided 200 pregnancy tests and 109 courtesy ultrasounds for pregnant moms. Those are numbers that replicate year after year with hundreds of families affected annually.
“The numbers are sad because we know it means the need is great, but they are exciting too, because moms and dads are seeking knowledge and support. We are so thankful we can be a smile, a hug, a resource for tools that will help families be stronger.”
“We believe that if we can help one mom or dad today, that will impact generations to come,” Nicole says.
For 30 years, the Hope Unlimited Family Care Center has been doing just this.
Alexis Dickerson first came to Hope Unlimited when she found out she was pregnant at age 15 and became a mom to her first son at 16.
Since then, she has become a mom three more times and now raises a household of children that range in age from 14 years to only 8 months.
“Even with four kids, you’d think I’d be a veteran by now, but I’m not,” Alexis says.
Once every two weeks, Alexis makes an appointment to visit the Hope Unlimited Center and participate in the core program, Learn to Earn, which awards parents who participate with “Hope Dollars” that they can use to provide for their families. Participants, like Alexis, work with a Hope mentor to choose a course of study that will most benefit their family, from pregnancy education to newborn and infant care all the way to effective discipline techniques for older children, marriage support and bible studies. For those studies, clients can earn household items like laundry detergent and cleaning supplies, necessities for childhood like diapers and wipes and even clothing and toys.
Alexis is currently doing study through the program on effective discipline techniques to help make her family stronger. More than the education she’s received, Alexis says she values the support that she feels.
“Being a stay at home mom, we feel isolated at times,” she says.
“It’s nice to have another adult’s opinion or help whenever you’re struggling with something so you can go through it with somebody else and not alone.”
Shannon West, a first-time mom, found out that she was pregnant through Hope Unlimited’s Prenatal Care Center. With the help of the Hope Unlimited Medical Center and the Learn to Earn program, Shannon has been able to get information about pregnancy through each trimester and education about how to care for her infant son, now just months old.
“They helped me with things that I didn’t even know that I didn’t know,” she says.
In the initial days of her son’s life, where all things are new and scary, Hope Unlimited’s medical staff were able to answer many of Shannon’s questions and reassure her that her son was thriving as a normal infant should.
For Nicole and Hope Unlimited staff members, they are seeing an increasing number of families that need some type of assistance.
“The need for resources and services will continue as they have for the past 30 years, but unfortunately we do see this need growing because families are struggling with life, addiction, lack of support and resources,” she says.
Fortunately, for those families, Hope Unlimited is a place that can provide them the support and direction they need to thrive.
“It’s just really helpful to know that there are other people out there who can help you,” says Alexis.
“You don’t have to do this alone.”
All services provided by Hope Unlimited Family Care Center are free and confidential. According to Nicole Farley, Executive Director, Hope Unlimited benefits from three major fundraisers each year, including the Baby Bottle Campaign, the Annual Gala held in September and a year-end donation drive. The Center also receives donations throughout the year from private donors, businesses, churches and through grant sources and community organizations.
If you would like to donate funds to help aid in the Center’s efforts, you can do so online at http://hopeunlimitedfcc.org/, in-person at either the Paducah or Metropolis location or by mailing a donation to 1101 Jefferson St. Paducah, KY 42001. The Center also receives donations of new and gently used items for children and families at either of their locations.
The Center also greatly relies upon the numerous volunteers to help them reach all the families in need, Nicole says.
“We could not serve the amount of people we do without our volunteers,” she says.
Volunteers are instrumental in keeping Hope’s Closets organized and stocked with items for clients and families in the general public to utilize, in mentoring moms and dads, through coordination of events and in administrative tasks to help the organization run smoothly.
Those interested in volunteering can fill out the volunteer application on the Hope Unlimited website or stop by either location.