Pictured left to right...Nikki Montgomery (thrift store manager), Krystal Dumas (founder & CEO), and Robin Howard (Board Chairwoman)
When Krystal Dumas started Just HOPE Inc. 11 years ago, she never imagined that using her couponing skills to feed hungry mouths with her pantry stockpile and her old delivery car would evolve into transitioning over 800 families into their own homes after experiencing homelessness.
The ministry moved from her house to a large room at Advance United Methodist Church, to the back room at A Storehouse for Jesus, to the basement of the old Napa building, to a 4,000 square foot building on Wilkesboro Street, to its new 9,000 square foot home at 814 South Main Street in the building formerly occupied by Upscale Consignment and Mocksville Building Supply — in under 6 years. “I’ve been told so many times that my dreams are too big…but apparently God doesn’t think so because the blessings keep coming and each time they are bigger and better than the one before.” Those dreams are driven by a deep understanding of the needs of the homeless – those who live in hotels, camps, cars, or on the couches of family and friends – because she was once one of them. At 23, the mental and emotional effects of a series of traumas caused her to lose her job, her home, and her sense of direction. She was going to school, working, and sleeping in her car behind a restaurant in Lexington. A regular at the restaurant noticed, and rather than judging, offered her a hand up. Although she was a complete stranger, he hired her to clean his house and offered her his basement until she got back on her feet. Knowing she could never pay him back, Krystal, decided to devote her life to paying his kindness forward. “I think he felt like he needed to help me, and he did. I lived with him for a little while and was able to save up some money. I started therapy, got a better job, finished school, and got a place of my own, but if it hadn’t been for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I decided I wanted to be that person that I had needed for others.” Her own first-hand experience sets Just HOPE apart. “Being relevant and relatable is the biggest blessing you can give to someone else. Having someone have the courage to share their story and feeling like someone is actually listening is the best therapy. I think that is the biggest thing people get from here. It doesn’t feel like an agency. We are very relatable, and truly understand when not a lot of people do.”
Just HOPE (JHI) now has three full-time and two part-time employees, as well as a team of dedicated volunteers, who are devoted to serving the displaced, homeless, and those without reliable transportation. Krystal shared a description of the life-changing services the agency offers. While helping families transition to their own homes, JHI assists with hygiene items, job search, budget building, agency referrals, case management, substance abuse referrals, and counseling. Until they locate permanent housing, JHI acts as their mail center, a place to use the phone and receive important messages, a place to do laundry, and an escape from the harsh weather conditions during the day. In addition, JHI coordinates with First Presbyterian, First United Methodist’s WHEN ministry, and Fresh Hope (formerly California Fresh catering), a non-profit food delivery service, to provide hot meals to the residents of The Lakewood Motel, Scottish Inn, and local campsites two to three times a week.
In the past two years, JHI has grown by leaps and bounds in order to meet the ever-growing needs of our community; including assisting those that are homeless. The homeless population in Davie County has been overlooked for a long time. Families are going through hard times and falling through government program cracks. These families are living in multi-family households with unsafe sleeping situations, living in motels, sleeping in their cars, and even residing in tents where ever they can find a vacant space of land. When you are faced with the challenge of not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night AND you are hungry, it’s overwhelming. Until JHI started the SHiP Program in 2013, there was no assistance in our county for the homeless. They had to vacate to neighboring counties to seek shelter because Davie County didn’t have any resources or agencies dedicated to helping this population; mainly because most people thought they didn’t exist. They DO exist and slowly but surely, these families are being assisted by JHI in finding permanent shelter…somewhere to call HOME.
While these families transition to their own home, they need assistance with many different things. JHI assists with hygiene items, job search, budget building, agency referrals, case management, substance abuse referrals, and counseling. Until they locate permanent housing, JHI’s home office acts as their mail center, a place to use the phone and receive important messages, and an escape from the harsh weather conditions during the day. After they find housing, JHI assists with furniture, clothing, and household items from our in-house thrift store. We offer HOPE where it is needed most.
White, J. B. (2021, May 21). Just Hope is More Than a Thrift Shop. The Davie County Blog. https://www.daviecountyblog.com/just-hope-is-more-than-a-thrift-shop/