“A single drop of water. When I think about Hope House Montgomery, that’s what I see us as…” Click the below to watch Ms. Candace Cain as she speaks about the mission and values of Hope House Montgomery, in hopes for appreciated supporters, like you, to become a part of “ The Ripple Effect.”
In March of 2023, two friends from college and I visited one of our other college friends, Candy, in Montgomery, Alabama. I had never been in or even driven through Montgomery and had no idea what to expect.
For three days, we reminisced, told stories, and ate lots of good food, and Candy shared with us about the nonprofit Hope House Montgomery, where she and her mom lived and ran a neighborhood ministry. They have an after-school reading program for kindergarten through fifth grade and two college-age interns who live there to help in the community. Candy worked full-time, cared for her 91-year-old mother, and then started this neighborhood nonprofit to benefit the community.
On my drive home, I thought about being a monthly donor as that would be a way for me to help. Ev
On October 27, 2023, Hope House Montgomery and Hopes Ministry teamed up to take students from our tutoring programs to the pumpkin patch. I found a free pumpkin patch at Trinity United Methodist Church in Prattville, Alabama.
When we asked the families about allowing their kids to attend - we received a resounding “YES.” We were thrilled that most of our parents and extended family joined us. The families could drive to the pumpkin patch or ride a bus provided by Mr. Keith Cantrell and his wife, Mrs. Angela Cantrell. On our bus ride, we got comfortable playing games, sleeping, and taking pictures. Riding together to a new place creates such anticipation.
When we got to the pumpkin patch, I announced, “We will buy one pumpkin for each kid. It doesn’t matter what size,
Sixteen months ago, I was invited to a Meet Your Neighbor event in Capitol Heights by a friend, Seth, and his wife, Megan. They live about four blocks away. It was on a Saturday morning from nine to ten, and it was a “bring your morning beverage.” I walked over and thought about how hard it is to meet your neighbor these days. For me, it is often about the mental effort. What will I say? Will I be accepted, reminding myself not to be too nosey or inserting myself in their situation?
Back in the day when air-conditioning wasn’t a norm and people lived on their front porches, everyone couldn’t help but know their neighbors and those passing by. Times have changed and we all live inside continually, and getting to know your neighbors takes initiative
What I appreciate about interning with Hope House Montgomery is the action behind the statement that we profess: being a good neighbor. We’re so dedicated to upholding that idea that we invite our neighbor(s) every Monday night to come and have dinner with us. It is a great time to engage in thoughtful conversation, build relationships, laugh, and get to know one another better. I have not faithfully eaten at a dinner table since I was a child, so it is nice to have this opportunity to unplug from the norms of today’s society and enjoy the company of one another while being present.
Hope House Montgomery was highlighted at the August 12th Montgomery Biscuit home game. One of our friends tuned us into the opportunity a few months ago, so we applied—the Biscuits and Guardian Credit Union partner to focus on one local nonprofit each home game. We were thrilled to be chosen. Thank you, Montgomery Biscuits and Guardian Credit Union
We received a table prominently displayed at one of the main entrances and four tickets. Although it was a very muggy and hot evening, we loved the chance to tell people about our little neighborhood ministry and give away shirts reminding everyone that it is “all about being a good neighbor!”
I’m Maki’ya Selma, a graduating senior at Alabama State University, majoring in Business Management, from Chicago, Illinois.
A few of my hobbies include exercising my creative abilities with singing, journaling, developing digital content, and occasionally creating music; I also enjoy working out and trying new things. I’m passionate about walking in my purpose and answering God’s call on my life.
I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given to serve the Highland Park community through the work at Hope House Montgomery.
It is crazy to think that the school year is over and summer is here. At Hope House Montgomery, we serve eleven students from kindergarten to fifth grade in our afterschool reading program. We also support many other students in our community. Our goal is to increase our support each year.
Many of our students live in stressed circumstances, supported by a single parent who works all year. Summer brings on a new stress of figuring out how to pay for daycare or day camps—even more of a struggle is leaving older children to watch each other. I can think of several of my own sibling stories :-)
This summer, we would like to offer scholarships to our community families to help pay for or offset the cost of a week of camp. Day camp rang
Anticipating how our School’s Out Event would turn out, trying to know if anyone would show up, I had to let go of being able to forecast the result. This was hard for me. We had sent out invites and reminders to the families of our students who participate in our Wednesday afterschool reading program, “Read Around the Block,” we canvassed the neighborhood, set out several yard signs throughout the community, and sent out announcements through the Next-door App and our Hope House Montgomery Website. I have never thrown or organized a block party, and that’s what this was. Would our neighbors and friends come?
I had heard from a couple of neighbors who were committed to coming. We had a face painter coming and a craft where people could stencil or paint fre
Highland Park and surrounding neighborhoods are invited: May 27th starting at 12 noon until 3:30 p.m. Come to our School’s Out Cookout - it’s free!
Our volunteers include Woodmont Hills Church WOODMONT.ORG FROM Nashville, TN, and our partners, Hunter Hills Church of Christ HUNTERHILLS.ORG from Prattville, AL. Our Volunteers will be grilling and helping out with
Having moved many times, I know that settling into a new neighborhood takes time and effort. Once we moved to 430 Polk St (Hope House Montgomery) in October of 2021, we sent an informational letter to connect with our community. Not knowing how people would respond, the waiting seemed lengthy. So it was beautiful to hear from a few neighbors who emailed us to let us know they were also involved in building the community and helping our neighborhood kids.
Kiara, Dessy, and I were thrilled to meet these engaged neighbors: The Rhodebecks (Seth and Megan) and the Campbells (Colin and Victoria) work with, and support HOPES (Helping Our Public Education System, hopesmgm.com), a weekly tutoring program at Capitol H
This last semester has been an eventful one for Hope House Montgomery. As many of you know, Hope House Montgomery was established in 2021. For an organization that has just begun in God’s journey, many exciting parts of HHM have been flourishing.
You get creative when you want to try and be a good neighbor. When Hope House Montgomery started about a year and a half ago, my main focus was facilitating an after-school reading program. Reading is a vital tool for enabling our youth to have a chance at success in our world. When that didn’t happen as quickly as we had hoped, we began thinking about ways to make a difference. It didn’t need to be big, but something that indicated that we cared about our Community.
With that thinking in mind, we began picking trash up in our neighborhood. We had lots of trash, and I could either complain about it or get out and pick it up. It was a way to get out and meet a few neighbors. As we canvassed the area and did trash pick up, we became aware of our Community’s diversity. &
At Hope House Montgomery, we thought of ways to help a few of our neighbors during this holiday, where families hope to share life, food, and appreciation. We received some funding to put together a few food bags. We could purchase some of the favorites for a thanksgiving meal, such as stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, corn, fruit, freshly baked cookies, and a gift card for other wants or needs. One would think fifty dollars per bag would be more than enough, but it seemed small once we got it all in. Everything is costly, even in bulk.
Read Around the Block at Hope House Montgomery has started! I am ecstatic and hopeful.
Those following our journey may know we have worked for about a year to start an after-school reading program. We started with a mass mailing about the program and met with the elementary administration, and then nothing happened.
We continued to reach out to the community and school with no response. Mind you, we had only lived in the neighborhood for less than four months, yet in my head, I believed this program would be both celebrated and desired. Admittedly, I am impatient, and my disappointment hung with me until my brother reminded me that laying the groundwork and earning trust takes time, and God works despite us.
With a new academic year, we began brainstormi
The Little Free Library didn’t happen as I had hoped, but it is now a reality!
After the box arrived, I painted it, and my brother worked to get the post deep in the ground and attach the case. That was a tough job!
There is an official Little Free Library organization. So we registered with them so we could get on the map and qualify to get free books. I also signed up to get the Little Free Library steward newsletter. A steward is responsible for circulating the books and tending to the bookcase. So I could hear about what other stewards are doing to promote their libraries and keep new books circulating.
I must admit, once I put the books out with a sign explaining the process, I waited at the window to see if there would be any move
Our neighbors, Todd and Mila, came over for dinner a few weeks ago. We shared pizza and salad from one of our favorite restaurants, Midtown Pizza. Good to get to know them better. They are gardeners growing some vegetables and all kinds of flowers and greenery. Just yesterday, my Ring front doorbell camera told me someone was at the front door, and to my surprise, Todd was bringing eggplant and celery they had a surplus of.
I hope to be making eggplant parmesan soon :-)
On March 19th at 2:00 p.m., Jeremy Kelly of Kelly Realty will oversee the installation of a Little Free Library at Hope House Montgomery located at 430 Polk Street, Montgomery, Alabama 36107.
I have seen the Little Free Libraries in a few Montgomery neighborhoods and love the concept. The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that strives to build community and create book access. The Little Free Library is a perfect partnership for Hope House Montgomery.
A friend of mine from Mercy House, Madison, introduced me to Jeremy Kelly knowing that reading was essential to Hope House Montgomery’s mission. Jeremy was impacted through reading and desires to pay it forward by giving other kids and adults opportunities to read life-changing stories. We are thrilled that he
Brainstorming ways to encourage our neighbors in Highland Park, Kiara suggested delivering valentines to our community. At first, I was uncertain, but as she described her idea of designing a card tied with a small bag of candy, we three agreed it could be a friendly gesture.
Kiara shopped for candy, bags, ribbon, and I created the card. Sunday, February 13, we gathered around the kitchen table to put the cards and bags of candy together. As usual, you have lots of laughter wherever you have Kila and Kiara together!
If you know or read the Hope House Montgomery story, you know that Hope House Detroit was the inspiration of what we are hoping to bring about in Montgomery.
Through many prayers and conversations, Becky and Gary Gentry (Hope House Detroit founders) encouraged the start, supplied the foundational programming and materials, and pledged support. Hope House Detroit (Hopehousedetroit.org) is in its 12th year serving its neighborhood in Detroit with three locations. HHD hosts reading, mentoring, internships, scholarships, a neighborhood playground, weekend activities, and whatever they might imagine helping their community, along with their neighbors and friends.
Becky and Gary visited early in the process to help look for a home in Highland Park and fan the dream of a H
In October of 2021, Mom and I finally moved to Hope House Montgomery at 430 Polk St with the help of many Hunter Hills church members. We were able to join the interns, Kila and Kiara, who had been in the HHM Intern cottage since August. They were happy to have us there finally.
Over weekly dinners, we began planning and brainstorming about the next steps. One of the aspects of living in a community that I think is important is cooking and spending time together. I have to admit it takes intentionality. As a human immersed in American culture, I am very independent and can always find a reason to be on my own or find a reason to allow others to be on their own. I have realized this mindset often instills arrogance and isolation that is not helpful to our community, world, or resp
This photo was taken earlier in the Fall prior to our move into Hope House on Polk St. We try each week to eat together and this has been a good time for connecting. There is just something about eating around a table and catching up with each other especially in these times of Covid-19.
We will continue to eat together and take turns cooking. Kila (pictured in the upper right corner of photo) tells us she is not much of a cook but we will find a few meals that she can master :-). She has been sending me TikTok videos of desserts and meal suggestions so I am also learning some new menu items.
In October we (mom and me) finally moved into Hope House Montgomery on Polk Street and joined Kiara and Kila who have lived there since September.&
Hi, I am Kiara Renae Steele, the youngest of four children from Clanton, Alabama. Life wasn’t always easy, but God has brought me through many trials and tribulations. While attending Chilton County High School, I was blessed to receive a basketball scholarship from Faulkner University. During my time at Faulkner (which I am now a junior), I have been honored to be a member of the Faulkner University Women’s Basketball team, Student Government Association as Treasurer, and Campus Activity Board (CABO). Being involved in these organizations has helped me learn more about myself, my strengths, and my goals.
I remember right when I decided to pursue a career helping people: it was in my great-grandmother’s kitchen. Witnessing her offering assistance to people in th
It has been a few months now since we began this ministry and we having been patiently searching for the right home in the Highland Park neighborhood. My friends from Hope House Detroit came down in early spring and we located a couple of homes that fit the needed size and location but getting in touch with the owners/seller has been met with struggle. We eventually moved on since we were not getting returned calls.
Many of the homes are small and since we need room for interns to live and serve not finding larger homes for sale has been a bit disappointing. The area has many homes that look suitable but have been abandoned, are boarded up, and are not for sale at this point. I am told this is likely due to who is on the title of the home (sometimes it is several relatives)
As we prepare for our reading enhancement program, “Read Around the Block” we are establishing a children’s library. We are looking for gently used or new books pre-K through 6th grade.
If you are local to the Prattville or Montgomery, Alabama area then you can drop books off at the Hunter Hills Church of Christ on 330 Old Farm Lane in Prattville during regular office hours.
For convenience, we have created an Amazon Book List where you can purchase a book or books and they will automatically be sent to Hope House Montgomery.
Additionally, you can send books to Hope House Montgomery or send a check indicating it i
In the photo, that’s me, Candace, on the left working with a great group of college leaders.
Having served as a dean of students at Rochester University for over 15 years, I had a dream that was motivated by a desire to give college students a real experience of what it would look like to intentionally practice being good neighbors. The art of community or even neighborliness seemed lost in our culture. This Community-Living Project that I was imagining would have included community-living in a diverse neighborhood situated close to schools and full of opportunities, where a family and a committed group of college students would seek to create ways to be good neighbors. That was 2006 and the well intentioned program never got off the ground.
In 2007 I transitioned from