With this first issue of 2022, I want to thank each of you, who has supported us for the last dozen years. The time has passed quickly, and we would not still be open and operating without your support.
Since I always strive for full transparency, I want to share with you some data on where our financial support comes from and how it is used. It is important to me that we share this information openly with our thousands of supporters.
Before I go into more detail, I found it amazing that as we were putting this issue together, we were compelled to revisit the Matthew’s Hope roots by opening a Freeze Warning Shelter in January. We have not needed to do this for several years. It was in 2010, as a response to inclement weather with temperatures dropping into the 30’s, that a few friends and I asked local churches to temporarily house our homeless population. Although many turned us away, the West Orange Church of Christ eagerly agreed to allow the homeless of our community a warm and safe refuge from the winter weather. The rest is history. Our history!
Matthew's Hope now assists with medical, dental care. optical and mental healthcare, IDs, birth certificates, social security cards and benefits, food stamps, phones, showers, haircuts, and laundry service, and more. God is good, and He used you to help bring it all together! Back then, I could never have dreamed that Matthew’s Hope would now be in the position to provide all the fore-mentioned services. Our first budget was $75,000 which, at the time, a number most felt it was a target impossible to reach. Our budget today is well over $1.5 million in cash and another $3.5 million in donated goods and services. In 2010, my hope was to just provide fresh new socks and underwear, gloves, and a beanie hat to every homeless man, woman, and child living in our community. From that point forward, the dreams and vision only got bigger. I believe that as we stay determined to be good stewards and transparent with all that God has provided, that He has in turn entrusted us with more, thus allowing us to add additional services and opportunity through the years.
In 2020 we experienced a 300% increase in weekly visits. We needed to find more efficient ways of doing things and have a greater and more immediate understanding of what it takes to accomplish our mission. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and our team, though pushed to the limits, stepped up and by the grace of God, Matthew’s Hope is now better than ever as we move into the future.
In 2021, God expanded our territory and in doing so, we were able to add an additional transport vehicle, a second mobile pantry, expand our Outreach Center, buildout a larger and more efficient Food Pantry, and launch our new Medical Home. We did all of this with no government funding and stayed true to our core belief that our mission serves the least of these of our community. We also implemented a new Inventory and tracking system that allows us to get our data in real time! We can now digitally track the value of all goods and services on a single ministry day and know exactly who received services and support. This not only helps us to maintain our various inventories, but it also provides daily reports of exactly how many people were transported, seen by our mobile teams, visited outreach, and the values of those goods and services. We can provide exact counts of the number of services provided on any given day! This is a huge time and money saver going forward, especially as we do our annual independent financial audit.
The easiest items for us to report are those that we began tracking during the Pandemic. To date we have provided over 100,000 Pandemic masks and 16,000 hand sanitizers to our guests! I hope that some of what we are sharing in this issue will give you a better understanding on how we use your generous gifts to accomplish the “miracles” witnessed at Matthew’s Hope every day. We do believe in miracles, and we also believe God uses you to participate in such miracles.