The creation of Hope Harbor was inspired by three important experiences in the recent history of Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.
One is the ongoing operation of the 40W Assistance and Referral Center (40W A&R). The ecumenically operated 40W A&R has served the local neighborhoods (primarily zip codes 21229 and 21207) for seventeen years, providing various forms of emergency aid such as food, cash assistance for electricity or rent problems, and referrals to local providers of other social services. Seeing people use their services repeatedly led to an understanding that an additional, different type of support was needed.
A second experience came from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – Saint Bartholomew’s responded to this disaster by supporting a family relocated from New Orleans. Over two years, the goals/needs of this family were met through a church-based network of volunteer support. This support included housing, finding quality childcare and education, counseling, job placement, financial assistance, and enrollment in higher education to continue the mother’s pursuit of a career in the medical profession. This effort culminated in directly supporting the renovation of the family’s home in New Orleans so they could return.
The final motivation for Hope Harbor came from the Saint Bartholomew’s Strategic Plan. One of the three strategic imperatives specified in this plan is the following; “To demonstrate Christ’s reconciling presence in the 40 West communities, we will establish, support, and use a faith-centered Community Development Corporation to ensure the economic and social well-being of our neighbors.” Fulfilling this strategic imperative directly led to the creation of Hope Harbor. Our vision began to take shape in 2009; a founding board was established and we articulated the Vision, Mission and Core Values for our Community Service Organization. We also determined that although St. Bartholomew’s would support Hope Harbor, the two entities would also be separate and distinct. Hope Harbor became a 501© 3 organization in late 2010.