H.O.P.E. Meeting The Challenges Of Elsinore Valley's Hungry Population

For more than 20 years, the non-profit H.O.P.E. has been serving the less fortunate in Elsinore Valley through its food ministry, but the task has become monumental.

Ron Hewison and the other 65+ volunteers working at Helping Our People of Elsinore understand the causes of poverty are complex.

They witness it first hand. They see seniors on fixed incomes of less than $1,000 a month, and single parents with hungry mouths to feed. They see the unemployed who have lost everything, and aged grandparents raising grandkids.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter why someone is poor -- for Hewison and his team it’s all about humanity.

“Our mission comes down to five little words: ‘to help those in need,’” he explained.

For more than 20 years, the non-profit H.O.P.E. has been serving the less fortunate in Elsinore Valley through its food ministry, but the task has become monumental.

According to Hewison, in 2005-06 H.O.P.E. provided 62,000 meals to area poor. In 2009-10, that number jumped to 729,000 meals.

Hewison, with assistance from his wife, Cindy, has been heading H.O.P.E. for “eight or nine years.” He said that while the organization would like to help everyone in need, there simply aren’t enough resources.

Instead, H.O.P.E. has established a hierarchy in terms of who it serves. At the top of the list are seniors, followed by grandparents caring for grandchildren, then single parents raising teenagers (“teens eat more”), followed by people on disability nearing social security eligibility.

“We help provide that bridge to social security,” Hewison explained.

Finally, H.O.P.E. receives daily referrals from the Department of Public Social Services, and there are walk-ins.

Hewison said income verifications are run on all H.O.P.E. clients, but he added that temporary assistance is available to all those in need.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” he said.

At its 3,500 square-foot facility on 2nd Street in Lake Elsinore, H.O.P.E. operates a food pantry, as well as a toy and clothing ministry. The location also serves as a hub for its vans that pick up and deliver donations.

“We had three vans, but we just had one stolen,” Hewison said, noting that police are investigating.

H.O.P.E. funding comes from as many sources as Hewison can corral, but community donations and grants are key to ensuring the organization keeps its doors open.

At 67 years old, Hewison defies senior citizenship. He bounces around H.O.P.E. headquarters like a wiry teenager. He is casual in his demeanor and dress – tennis shoes, shorts and a baseball cap – and he shies from publicity, preferring instead to focus on his work.

He says he loves his volunteers and the community service they provide, and that’s what keeps him going the 50 to 60 hours a week he puts into the job, which is unpaid.

“As long as I’m here, it won’t be a paid position. H.O.P.E. is 100 percent volunteer driven,” Hewison offered, saying he wants to keep it that way.

“It should come from here,” he said, placing his right hand over his heart.

Hewison knows he can’t continue as H.O.P.E.’s leader forever. He has put together a plan that includes finding his replacement, getting a private foundation to fund capital projects and relocating to a larger building.

He envisions a large-scale facility that provides services to help stave off poverty and homelessness, one where job search and resume training can take place.

He also wants to see H.O.P.E. return to its roots.

“We used to be 100 percent church-driven,” he explained.

The organization still works with many area faith-based organizations, but the task at hand is grand and Hewison said a collective togetherness with a single high-minded goal is needed.

Pointing to a framed picture of Christ that hangs in his office at H.O.P.E., he said, “it is about Him.”





Martha L. Bridges June 01, 2011 at 08:07 PM
H.O.P.E. does such an outstanding job for the communities of Lake Elsinore and Wildomar. You can be sure that whatever you donate is truly put to good use. Their organization and staff do wonderful work, especially with their school programs to ensure children are well clothed. These are good people doing great things for the communities - for all the right reasons. Please support their efforts in any way you can.
John Lloyd June 02, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Ron, Cindy and the entire HOPE team are a blessing to this valley. Thank you all for all the hard work you do. You have touched so many lives. Special prayers to your family Ron.
Kristine Anderson June 02, 2011 at 03:12 PM
Great article. Words can not express the wonderful things all of these volunteers do on a daily basis. They are dedicated to the mission before them - helping those in need. Even though I am only there one day a month, I see the compassion and pride they have for all of whom they serve. Ron is a blessing from God and has made great changes and expansions in the many programs that they offer. Another organization in our community that is - sadly - so badly needed. One fault Ron has (and it is only 1) he needs to let the community & churches know what HOPE's needs are. We have so many wonderful people in our communities that will answer the call - but they need to be kept informed of what is needed. ♥ and God's blessings to all you feed the hungry.
Kristan Lloyd June 02, 2011 at 05:40 PM
June is Cornerstone's month for HOPE. June 11th is the Commodities Saturday and our MEGA Food Drive is the weekend of June 25/26. We could use your help for both events. For the Commodities on June 11th we need 100 volunteers. So please bring your friends and family to come out to the HOPE office on 2nd in Lake Elsinore a little before 6am to help. This event will fill your soul with the love and food given the needy families in our area. If you have any items you would like to donate for the HOPE MEGA Food Drive, let me know and I will pick up to be delivered to HOPE with the collections we take in at every weekend at all services.
Toni June 02, 2011 at 11:53 PM
How can I be avolunteer for h.o.p.e???
Toni McAllister (Editor) June 03, 2011 at 12:48 AM
If you are interested in volunteering or providing donations, contact H.O.P.E. at 951-245-7510.
Carol Reed December 09, 2011 at 01:14 AM
Toni, A group of us at Tarbell Realtors, Lake Elsinore have gotten together and would like to give a family in need a Christmas dinner and give the children Christmas presents, how can we get started? I have called Ron Hewison and left a message, no response. Please contact me at 951-660-5786 ASAP, thank you!
Nicole Kennedy-Jenkins December 30, 2011 at 03:58 AM
Hello my name is Nicole ... I would like to know if there is anyway I can volunteer in exchange for food.. Ive been told my husband make to much money to receive help. Which we are like a thousand dollars away from low income for our family size. We are a good family just trying to make it thru these times.I'm unable to work due to a bad car accident and closing my business. Dont have reliable transportation at this time due to my car being totaled .. Just wondering what do the families do that just need a little help to get thru? We have gotten rid of all the extras cell phone etc etc. To push thru so I'm not being selfish . I don't want to have to give up my dogs to the shelter because they will put them down. It's feed my dogs or my kids. If I could provide some food in the house it would help so much. Please if anyone has any info to help I would sincerely appreciate it.
Ron Hewison December 30, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Nicole -- call me on Friday at (951) 285 1354 -- may go to voicemail -- I will call back, Ron for HOPE
Kathe Crebar November 20, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Wow? I have donated for years. But really should people have to hunt for you? Look at the last posts? I know these people, they know who you are. Others should not have to hunt for your web page, or your location to be able to donate. Make it easier for people to help.
laurie lewin December 14, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Hi, I am interested in volunteering on Christmas if you are serving. Please let me know, I left a message on your voice mail also. Laurie Lewin


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