Hello friends, my name is Cathy (Cat) Jones and I am the Associate Director for Neighborhood Hope. When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with both of my grandmothers. My dad worked third shift, so my mom and I would stay with one of them until my dad got off work. One of the things that I remember the most about them is how well they loved their neighbors. There was never a hesitation when someone was in need and I grew up with that same mind set. I love that they showed me how to love.
In July 2010, our church was able to gain permission to throw a Block Party in a local community within walking distance of our church. It filled my cup so much by simply pouring love into our neighbors. After the Block Party, I started thinking, “What could I do for the community and more specifically the kids?”. My goal was to give them a safe place to gather and hang out. In the beginning, we simply called it “Wednesday Night”. There were 2 kids that came the first night and within weeks it quickly jumped to 60. We had an open gym, a devotional and my parents prepared a full meal for them every week. The joy that surrounded building relationships with the kids was amazing.
In 2011, God did something that caught my husband and I by complete surprise. We had been married almost 3 years and he was so supportive of my passion for the kids. The guidance counselor at McClintock Middle School asked me if I knew a particular young man that went to school there. He had broken his ankle and was having surgery on it and he was in need of someone to go sit with him at the hospital. I went to the hospital but I didn’t realize at the time the severity of his situation. I called Chris and told him that the young man was alone and asked if it was alright if I stayed with him. He didn’t hesitate to agree. The young man was in the hospital for 4 days and we talked, watched movies, and laughed. He was released and I helped out over the next month getting him back and forth to school and to checkups with the doctor. I found out through all this that his grandmother was terminally ill with cancer. God was working!
After a month, I was called by Youth and Family Services to come and be a part of a meeting they were having regarding him. Not knowing what to expect, I went. When I arrived, they said it was to determine the permanent placement of Khalil. Immediately I asked God to lead the meeting because I wasn’t sure why he had ME there. After several hours of discussing his history, they asked the question. “Who would like to be considered for Khalil to be placed with?” After his mom and dad both raised their hands, I raised mine and said “My husband and I would”. There was much dialogue after that and at the end I was calling Chris to tell him we needed to get the other bedroom ready because Khalil was coming to live with us. He was 12 years old at the time.
I share his story because he is such a big part of mine. He has taught me so much about unconditional love, patience, and compassion. It isn’t about bringing a child into your home, it is about simply showing love and being consistent. It is amazing to see the growth of Neighborhood Hope over the past 10 years and I am blessed to be a part of it. As Josh once told me, ” I wasn’t meant to sit behind a desk”. My heart is in the community working hand in hand with the kids. I have recently started an Options Program that is a resource for students in regards to literacy, tutoring, college, career, and life skills. I know that God is continuously directing our paths as we serve the children and their families. I am overwhelmed with knowing that God is just getting started and excited for everyone that walks alongside us. It takes a village!