Big Reach Center of Hope celebrating 10th anniversary

GREENFORD- The Big Reach Center of Hope this month marks 10 years of giving the community a helping hand.

The center will celebrate its anniversary with two fund raisers later this month- a comedy performance by Michael Jr. on April 27 at Greenford Christian Church following a Western Round-up corporate event by invitation the prior night. Tickets for the 3:30 and 6 p.m. Michael Jr. shows cost $20 plus a canned food item and are available or at the door.

There will also be a classic car show from noon to 4 p.m., registration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 5 at the church, with concessions, door prizes and plaques. Entry fee is $5 or five cans of food.

Scott Lewis, the center’s director, said looking back on a decade of meeting the tangible and spiritual needs of the community is a bittersweet reflection.

“It’s tough because of why we’re here, but we’re also giving hope,” he said. “It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years. We’ve truly been blessed; I think God put us here because He knew what was coming down the road economically.”

The center has served 300,000 people over the past 10 years.

“That’s a lot of food and a lot of clothing,” Lewis said.

But now is no time for looking back, with a much lofty future goal of helping people help themselves and others, according to Donation Coordinator Lisa Wallace.

Currently the center offers a 369 Give Back program which requires visitors three free visits, then progressively requires volunteer hours in three hour increments. The program started last year, with visitors logging 7,000 volunteer hours for 121 organizations. Visitors are encouraged to volunteer elsewhere in the community.

Future plans include life enrichment programs, with free education classes for families that teach basic life skills such as budgeting, cooking and couponing. A fundraising campaign is forthcoming for an educational wing addition at center, Wallace said.

“We want to be able to help people better their lives,” Lewis added.

Big Reach Center of Hope started as a vision of Lewis in April 2004 as a Big Reach Back to School event. The planned one-time event was held in August of that year in the church parking lot, but there were so many donations that the leftovers were moved into a double classroom inside the church and progressively grew over the years, with the current Center of Hope facility opening in October 2006 after being featured on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

“[God] certainly had big plans for us,” Lewis said, thanking on behalf of the organization the entire community for its support the past 10 years.

“Without it who knows what we’d be,” he said.

The Big Reach Center of Hope is a ministry of Greenford Christian Church and is recognized as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS. Distributions are hosted from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The facility is located at 11767 Lisbon Road, Greenford.