For more than 130 years, St. Luke’s has been committed to “sharing God’s love and bringing hope to the world” through community outreach programs. This year, more than any other year, bringing hope has been a vital part of the ministry of St. Luke’s. This year, the church family and staff have been busy feeding the community, providing school supplies and much needed services, but most importantly bringing hope.
When the public schools first announced modified schedules and closings, St. Luke’s began to innovate. The childcare staff started dreaming about and creating programs to assist children and parents with their education while enabling parents to work. The idea was to establish classrooms so that the children would have a safe, loving environment staffed by professional caregivers where they could complete their schoolwork.
In August, St. Luke’s was approached by the Department of Human Services and state government with a new program that would enable St. Luke’s to further help the community. The state of Oklahoma had federal coronavirus relief funding available and the idea was to use the funding to set up dozens of centers where school-age kids can go during the week while schools are on distance learning plans and their parents are at work. The initiative, called HOPE Centers, was to provide a safe place for children and their families, where they can get the resources they needed to thrive. With the staggering consequences of COVID threatening Oklahoma’s children, these Centers would provide tools and support based on the science of HOPE.
The science of HOPE was developed when Dr. Chan Hellman, OU-Tulsa professor, began to study the concept of hope and its importance in our personal lives, in public policy in education, in business, and in social services. He soon discovered that hope is the most predictive indicator of well-being in a person’s life. The science of hope shows there are ways a person who has experienced trauma can persist and thrive. Hope is measurable. Hope is malleable. Hope changes lives.
With the idea of changing lives by bringing hope, St. Luke’s became a part of the HOPE Center initiative. St. Luke’s HOPE Centers operate at the Downtown Campus Children’s Center, the Edmond Children’s Center and the Trinity Children’s Center, with over 145 children being enrolled. St. Luke’s operates multiple after-school programs including Studio 222 and El Sistema Oklahoma. A new partnership with the Lilyfield Organization and Empower OKC has enabled St. Luke’s to open a HOPE Center at the Asbury Campus. Through these programs, St. Luke’s has more than 165 students meeting at multiple sites for HOPE services.
Each HOPE center addresses academic support, mental health and food insecurity with support from DHS and community partners. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has a worker in each center to help if families need any kind of social services and provide referrals to workforce development programs, access to food stamps or energy assistance or other sorts of state and federal resource opportunities.
With the assistance of the Department of Human Services, St. Luke’s has been able to accommodate and give hope to more students than initially deemed possible. DHS provided technology grants that enabled St. Luke’s to acquire Chrome Books which support the learning platforms for the various school districts where the children are enrolled. The grant also enabled St. Luke’s to upgrade internet access and add equipment for music and STEM programming in the HOPE Centers. Through this unique partnership, St. Luke’s and DHS seek to bring hope to children and their families in the weeks and months to come.
If you would like to learn more about the HOPE Center program, please contact Gabrielle Moon – email@example.com or 609-1024.