‘A hand up’: HOTEL INC looking for more donations, volunteers

From back left: Rachel Wheat, John Baize, Tanisha Morrow, Fran Phillips, Karen Myers, Gary Tabor, Sally Carwell

From back left: Rachel Wheat, John Baize, Tanisha Morrow, Fran Phillips, Karen Myers, Gary Tabor, Sally Carwell

Those who come to HOTEL INC for help — whether they need food, monetary assistance, or just someone to talk to — will not receive a handout.

“It’s a hand up,” said Karen Myers, executive director of Helping Others Through Extending Love In the Name of Christ, or HOTEL INC.

The organization, located at 1005 Boatlanding Road, has distributed 23,000 canned food items to 2,198 hungry families in the area. But there is more work to be done.

“We need your help,” Myers said. “Please have a food drive, [give] monetary donations for financial assistance and volunteer to help those struggling to make ends meet.”

HOTEL INC’s food bank, Manna Mart, is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Clients can receive three full meals a day for three days, and menu items include oats, beef stew, vegetables, fruit cocktail and spaghetti, according to the organization’s website.

And when someone needs more than food, HOTEL INC tries to provide financial assistance for necessities like rent and utility payments, but, in turn, the client is expected to give back.

“What makes us unique is we do reciprocal giving,” Myers said. “If you come in with a BGMU bill for $200, we ask that you give back at $10 an hour and pay that back to the community.”

Clients can work off their bills by volunteering at HOTEL INC or any of the organization’s community partners. Volunteer time is valued at $10 an hour, so it would take a client 20 hours to work off a $200 bill.

“We have so many people here who start out as a client and then they volunteer back their time, and then they become a volunteer here,” Myers said. “It’s a way to get people back into giving and, sometimes, back into God.”

HOTEL INC’s reciprocal giving program tries to cover a client’s entire bill, whereas other non-profits may just offset some of the cost, she said.

“We try to pay the entire bill so that it actually puts them in a situation where they can take a breath,” Myers said. “We try to get to the root cause through our interview process of what needs to change here — what is creating the lack of self-sufficiency.”

Often, people struggling with poverty do not know where to turn, she said.

“A lot of the help agencies might have a voicemail or put you through a computer system,” she said. “Here, Cinda [Painter], our office manager, she answers the phone and listens to what’s going on. I think that is a ministry in itself, and she is then able to refer them to help that we might have and that other agencies might have as well.”

Interested volunteers can come in and get a tour. Myers will try to match someone’s skill set to HOTEL INC’s needs.

“I like to have people who enjoy what they’re doing,” she said.

John Baize started volunteering with HOTEL INC about 11 years ago after hearing about the organization from friends.

“It sounded like a thing that I’d like to do because it was a faith-based organization and I was interested in getting together with one, and I like the concept of helping out people in need,” Baize said.

Baize works at Manna Mart, interviewing people who need food and helping out with bagging groceries and counting donations. He spends about nine hours a week at HOTEL INC.

“The interview process kind of gives us a fix on how much food to give them and whether or not they need other assistance — kind of talk to them about their situation and see how they’re doing, if they’re employed or unemployed or disabled,” Baize said.

HOTEL INC provides a list of available jobs in the area to those who need it, along with a list of other local organizations that might be able to help.

Rachel Wheat, who does clerical work for HOTEL INC, has been volunteering there for about three months.

“I wanted to stay within a Christian environment and still do something that was helping people in the community,” she said.

Wheat puts together historical pictures and documents from events to showcase what the organization has done in the past.

Baize and Myers both said HOTEL INC is looking for more volunteers. They would like to be able to open their food bank on at least one Saturday a month.

“There’s a lot of people who work that still don’t have enough money to get food,” Baize said. “And they can’t come during the week because they’re working, so we thought why not do this thing on Saturday.”

For more information, contact HOTEL INC at 782-1263.

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