Victoria’s Hope founder reflects on 2018

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DODGE CITY – April Bowen German started Victoria’s Hope earlier this year as a way to honor her mother, Victoria Hammond Hankey, and help out single parents. 

German said of her mother, “She was a single mom for a very long time and had a hard time; (she) had to work three jobs raising us.  And I just remember her trying to get everything for us, and her not having even a pair of blue jeans that didn’t have a hole in them, because she couldn’t do anything for herself, because she was trying her best to provide for her kids. 

“But, even through all that, she would help other people, like getting up donations for families in need, and helping pay people’s bills, and things like that.  She was an apartment manager that would let people move in even if they didn’t have the money at the time. And she was always just helping people, and that was always her dream was to help people and do something like this.”

Six months in, German updated The Tribune on how things are going:

“In the six months since we have started we have helped roughly 200 families with clothing and household items.  We helped 20 children go back to school with school supplies with help from the community and Tonya Williams Insurance Agency, six children with clothing, backpacks and all their school supplies; (we) provided for 50 children at Christmas at our Santa's Workshop this month.  Good Hope Cub Scout Pack 333 held a canned food drive for us, and we were able to give food and water to the families that came to Santa's Workshop.”

Not without help

Victoria’s Hope has benefited from a small army of helpers who have volunteered their time, energy and resources.

German shared, “I have so many people that have helped and donated that I couldn't name them all without taking all day!  But I would like to thank of course my sister Heather Hankey for helping me come up with the idea and helping me follow through with it, Lora Raley for being my backbone and ‘boss,’ Kristi Cassels for all her time and dedication, Judy Thompson, Mike Hancock and Becky Bailey for helping me in the very beginning with my vision, Gerald and Janet Turner for providing me with a place for people to come get what they need, Angie and Retha Johnson for a their help with Santa's Workshop, Woodland Nursing Home for their huge donation of clothing over the summer, Moe's Southwest Grill for always being kind enough to let us have fundraisers, Good Hope Grocery for allowing us to have a car wash there to raise funds, and of course my boys and sweet husband Craig who have had to share some of their time with me so I could live out this dream.  Also Bubble Gum and Blue Jeans for helping me with fundraisers and being a drop off point, and also Younique Sophistication Boutique for being a drop off point as well.

German continued, “My hope for next year is that we can be open more hours.  There for a while I was only able to be open one afternoon a week, with me being a teacher and having three boys active in school and sports.  But Lora has started coming in for me some to offer more days for people to come in and I have had a few more people offer to do that as well so that is in the works.  I just can't thank everyone enough for the support, and to The Tribune for helping me get the word out.

“I couldn't have done any of this without the help of people in the community.  Whether it's been through monetary donations or donations of clothing, toys or household goods, I have always had enough to give to those who needed and enough to pay my rent on my building each month.  None of that could have been possible without all the help from the community. One thing I have seen through my grief and starting this is how many loving and good people we have in Cullman County. I have met some amazing people that I would have never met if I had not have started this to honor my mom's dream.”

Looking forward to the new year

“I'm so blessed to be part of this great community and to have been able to have this experience,” said German.  “Doing this has blessed me more than I could have ever imagined. In 2019, I hope to see us grow even bigger.

“I'm going to need a bigger building–again!–because I'm now outgrowing the one I am in through all the donations.  I hope to find a place big enough to be able to also store furniture for those who need it. I also hope to, in the next month or so, start collecting prom dresses and suits for teenagers who wouldn't be able to attend prom otherwise, because they don't have the money to get clothing for it.  

“We are also in the works of working with people who help the homeless.  I didn't realize just how many homeless we have in Cullman County. It's sad that we even have that issue, but we do.  It's so amazing to me that in June, me and my sister just wanted to help a few single moms get stuff for themselves that they would normally not be able to get because they were too worried about getting for their kids, has turned into so much more.

“One thing that amazes me is when single parents do come and shop, they still only want to get for their kids.  I will tell them I have two huge racks of women's and men's clothing–because you would be amazed at how many single dads there are, too–and they will say ‘I really just want to make sure my kids are taken care of,’ then I'll beg them to please get something for themselves.  I have more adult clothing than kids’ clothing because the parents never want to get anything for themselves.”

What it means

“If anyone can take anything away from this,” said German, “I hope it's that, even through your toughest times in your life, God can use you to help someone else.  I feel that's why we go through trials in our life, to learn how to be a more compassionate person to others who are hurting. I've seen people I've helped come back and donate stuff to me later because they wanted to return the favor to someone else.  And to me that's what it's all about: starting a chain reaction of people helping each other.

“This has also been a healing experience for me.  I have had so many women come in and shop that reminded me so much of my mom, doing everything they can to get by and provide for their kids.  We have cried together, prayed together and just hugged and hugged when they come in. It's therapeutic for me to be able to help them, and hopefully, I have given them just a little hope and relief during their struggles.”

Get involved!

Victoria’s Hope accepts donations of clothing and household items.  It is a 501(c)(3)nonprofit, so monetary donations are tax deductible.  For more information, visit www.facebook.com/vickishope42018/.

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