Poverty detrimentally impacts individuals through homelessness, food insecurity, and limited access to health care, and according to the U.S. Census, it affects approximately 20% of Mississippians. Fortunately, organizations like Doors of Hope Transition Ministries are working to stop the issue of homelessness and poverty in Lafayette County.
Doors of Hope was created in 2011 with one goal in mind: to help guide and support homeless families and families at risk of becoming homeless throughout the Oxford-Lafayette area. “This organization does everything we can to lift and build individuals up,” says executive director Mary Margaret Andrews. They help lead families toward self-reliance and stability by teaching them life skills through training, mentoring, and supportive housing.
Currently, Doors of Hope has established two major programs to support families: a shelter where homeless families can live and learn for up to six months rent-free as well as financial counseling services for at-risk families, teaching individuals how to budget, pay their rent and utilities, and learn skills to get out and stay out of debt.
While COVID-19 has greatly impacted Lafayette County, Doors of Hope has been a key player in helping individuals in our community. Since March, Doors of Hope has helped 75 families pay their rent and utilities. “Because of the high housing prices in Oxford, there is a homeless problem here, and, unfortunately, people do not see it,” says Gabrielle Rush, vista worker and volunteer for Doors of Hope, “More individuals than you would think have a difficult time sustaining a place to live.”
Students can also make a huge difference in curbing the homeless population in Lafayette County. Since they are a nonprofit organization, Doors of Hope depends entirely on donations from businesses, churches, and community members to meet their clients’ needs. Throughout the year, Doors of Hope hosts several donation drives, and they need students to host fundraisers and create social media campaigns to benefit the homeless population.
They also host donation drives and fundraisers like their Wreaths of Hope auction and raffle during the holiday season to help ensure all families have something to celebrate and eat over the holidays.
As Gabrielle says, “It doesn’t take a huge event to change someone’s life, a helping hand or a simple donation can go a long way.”