H.O.P.E. stood for Heartland Opportunities for Partnerships and Empowerment; it was a non-profit organization that recently was de-designated as a community action program by the Virginia Department of Social Service.
According to the H.O.P.E. Community Services webpage, H.O.P.E.’s mission was to help out and offer services to lower income families. For nearly 40 years, H.O.P.E. has been funded by federal and state programs and has helped out seven counties.
Evan Jones, assistant editor of the Southside Messenger, stated, “H.O.P.E.’s programs are run by a state department and the employees of H.O.P.E. are paid by the state. The state provides a grant that gives money for H.O.P.E. to pay their employees and pay roll taxes.”
Jones added, “There was a hundred thousand dollars that came in toward November and December payroll taxes in 2011 and the check wasn’t written by the state government to the IRS, it was written to the organization.”
“The organization took the money and cashed the check, but didn’t spend it on payroll taxes.
So, for the time being all of their grants have been suspended, all of their employees have been fired and everyone who is there at this point is a volunteer,” Jones continued.
After the incident took place, the police were called.
Jones said, “I went to a couple meetings, and more than of half of the board, who supported the Executive Director and her position left and walked out during the meeting.”
Jones added, “There were six board members remaining and they determined the meeting had not been adjourned and still conduct business and voted to ask for the executive director’s resignation and voted to put together a plan to attempt to save the organization. Everyone is fighting to keep the organization, but they are many bills that still need to be paid.”
Dr. Henry Featherston, the organization’s interim executive director, is new and was not connected to this incident, but he is a member and is fighting for the organization and trying to bring them out of the negative lime light.
Featherston said, “The name has changed due to some negative publicity about H.O.P.E. in the service areas that we have been with and worked with six
different counties.” Featherston added, “The formal persons that worked at H.O.P.E. gave it a bad name, so we thought it would be appropriate to change the name from H.O.P.E. to New Horizons,”
“We started from scratch and everyone who used to work here has been terminated or resigned as of July 2. I am the interim executive director and have started work on July 29. Our goal has been to change H.O.P.E., which is now New Horizons, and turn it around. The first part of this change has been to come up with a new name.” He added.
Featherson mentioned a few of New Horizons services, by stating, “We are providing services for people to get help with their light bill, if they have a cut off notice for their light bill. Starting ... Sept. 30, we have a tutoring and mentoring program for youth.”
Featherson added, “We are also going to try to provide some affordable housing to this area.”
For more information, those interested can call New Horizons at 434-315-8990 or email New Horizons at hopecsva@gmail. com.
New Horizons is located on 103 South Main Street, Farmville, VA 23901.