LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Hope. To some it's just a word, but for Stephanie Olford, the meaning goes deeper.
"It's Helping Other People Excel," said Stephanie Olford, director of The H.O.P.E. Center of North Lufkin.
The center's mission is just that, helping others. Olford and her husband packed up and left New Jersey two years ago to join the center, which has been around for 13 years.
"We've been hitting the ground running ever since then," Olford said.
H.O.P.E.'s Back to School Fair featured free backpacks, health screening,s and even a hot meal, which Olford says are a few of the ingredients necessary to fulfill her mission of giving back.
"This is my passion, this is my heart. Helping people excel, that's what it is and this is what I do, this is me. I can't do anything else but what I do," Olford said.
And while they only planned for 75 to 80 people, the actually number of attendees was much more.
"We have been blessed with so many people that it's over that amount, so I'm just excited for all the different people coming out," Olford said.
And come out is what they did. Attendees even got the chance to test out their tae kwon do skills, some Collin Musick has always wanted to do.
"Great! Awesome time," said Collin Musick. "I will come back again."
IThat kind of comment is music to Olford's ears.
"I get joy out of helping somebody else. Even if I have to put myself last, I get joy out of helping somebody else," Olford said.
And as for today's take-away?
"I hope that they go home understanding that their health is more important to them than anything else because in order to live long, you have to have a healthy life," Olford said.
In addition to the school supplies, backpacks, and vision screenings, attendees also had the chance to go home with a bag full of groceries, all free of charge.