HISTORY OF HAWKINS HELPING HAND Jan.
1987: First meeting to explore the concept of a community Food Pantry and Benevolence organization was held at the Hawkins First United Methodist Church. Ross and Wendy Whitney of Hawkins had the vision to have such an organization in Hawkins and met with the Ministerial Alliance to get their input on the need for one. It was well received and the decision to go ahead full speed on the project was given with great enthusiasm. All subsequent meetings were held at the Methodist Church.
Feb. 1987: Officers elected;
Jeff Karlson Board Chairmen
Jewell McCalla Vice Chairmen
Barbara Allred Secretary
W. C. Maynard Treasurer
Wendy Whitney Acting Director.
March – May 1987: Methodist Church allows us to use half of their old Parsonage building for HHH. Committees working hard to get volunteers and funding arranged for opening. Legal papers prepared and filed with the State of Texas.
June 1987: Everything is completed in record time, and we open on the first Monday of June 1987. We are open Monday-Wednesday- Friday from 9AM to 12 Noon.
June 1989: Wendy Whitney steps down as acting Director. Barbara Allred becomes our first Executive Director.
July 1989: HHH moves from the old Methodist Parsonage to the old High School building. We go from approximately 800 square feet to 10,000 square feet. A decision was made when we moved to the old High School to change our hours of operation to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday’s from 9:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M.
January 1990: We have a Super Bowl Garage sale on the weekend of the Super Bowl. This was a fundraiser and was very successful. We then took what didn’t sell and decided to open a thrift store for an ongoing source of revenue. It was very successful as people began to donate items for the store. This was the beginning of all our thrift stores. From there we added furniture, appliances, clothing, books, computers and so forth.
1990 – 1997: Over the next several years, new programs were begun. We began to distribute government food commodities from Quitman. That lasted about three years until the Quitman office was closed. A GED program was begun. For several years many graduated from our program and went on to get their GED. The Hawkins Library requested that the program be taken over by them. Our Board decided to allow this to take place. They continued the program for several years. We also provided free income tax assistance for our clients. Don Ross, now deceased, and Sam Bradley provided this service until we moved out of the old school and moved to our present location. We provided a blood bank account for the Hawkins area through Stewart Blood Center in Tyler. It is now Carter Blood Center. After doing this for several years, Stewart Blood Center requested that Hawkins have only one blood bank account. At that time the Hawkins Lions Club and the First Baptist Church also had accounts through Stewart Blood center. So First Baptist was awarded with the single account for the Hawkins area. Health Fairs were held from approximately 1992 –1997. Most where held on a monthly basis with one major Health Fair held each year. After moving to our present location, there was not enough space to hold a Health Fair, so they were discontinued. The last major project that we started was lunches for the home bound, which we did for a short time. This project became Meals on Wheels and was taken over by the Community Center in Hawkins. In the mid 1990’s, as the old school building was having maintenance issues and we could not get a clear title to purchase the property, we began to look for a new location for Helping Hand. Two buildings, which joined each other in downtown Hawkins, became available. The asking price was $65,000.00. We were very interested in purchasing them, as they were the only buildings available in Hawkins at that time. However, the city leaders felt that all the additional traffic in the downtown area could cause major issues and possible accidents, so we chose not to pursue that property. In November 1995, Exxon offered to donate one acre of land next to the Fire Dept. to Helping Hand. A new building was planned at a cost of $75,000.00. However the Fire Dept. was also interested in the property. Some controversy developed and we decided to turn down Exxon’s offer to keep peace in the community.
March of 1997: we purchased our existing property for $38,000.00. With a matching grant from the Meadows Foundation, the house and property was paid off in two years.
June 2000: William (Bill) Allison becomes new Board Chairmen.
September 2002: Dottie Barrett becomes new Executive Director.
2007: The decision was made to terminate grant money from the United Way, which we had been receiving since the mid 1990’s, because of the extreme accounting issues that the United Way was requiring which would nearly dictate a paid employee to keep all the necessary records. From that time to the present, we receive no grant monies from any source, and are totally funded by local business and personal donations.
January 2009: Jim Armstrong becomes the Chairmen of the Board.
February 2009: Jeff Karlson becomes the new Executive Director.
June 2010: Completed extensive remodeling of HHH.
2011: New metal donation drop off building and furniture storage buildings added.
2012: New clothing donation bin added.
2017: May 11 started preparation for new furniture shop; hoping to complete for 30th anniversary in June.
2018: June 30 Jim Armstrong resigned as chairman of the board after nine years of dedicated service. Marvin R. Clark was elected the new chairman at the July board meeting. Vernon Johnson was elected vice chairman in September, 2018.