The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced it has donated $10,000 to the Community Hope Center in Osceola County. The donation comes amid increasing need as thousands of local tourism and hospitality workers are not working with theme parks and restaurants closed or are operating on a limited basis.
Reverend Mary Downey, the CEO and founder of the Community Hope Center, was grateful for the donation.
“This donation is an absolute gift during a very difficult time. We are grateful for the Church’s support,” said Downey. “Before COVID-19, we would have been talking about self-determined success with those who came to us – helping them overcome hurdles to long term success and independence. Now, we are simply meeting their basic needs.”
Downey said food assistance requests have increased by 144 percent at her organization since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The Community Hope Center serves the impoverished residents of Osceola County and the surrounding areas. Of those who have come to the center for help in the past three weeks, 72 percent have lost their jobs for reasons related to COVID-19. The statistics have caused Downey to temporarily refocus her organization’s usual long view of helping others to simply keeping families fed. Her organization sources the food they share with those in need from Second Harvest Food Bank of Orlando.
The donation is the result of the relationship between the center’s director of community development, Reverend Josh Bell and local leadership of the Church.
“Local leaders of the Church reached out and asked Reverend Bell about our needs,” said Downey. “I’m always impressed when it’s on others’ radar to think outside their own circumstances and to give.”
“One of the main tenants of our faith is that we serve Jesus Christ by serving and helping those around us,” said Ryan Munns, president of the Hunters Creek Stake, an area of the Church that includes multiple congregations in south Orange County and Osceola County. “Our local members and missionaries volunteer at the Community Hope Center and know how much the organization does to help those in need. Our local leaders recommended that the funds be directed to them.”