"We've owned it ever since we've owned it," said Rev. Cedric Kenebrew. "There's never been a time that we've not owned the HOPE Center."
But some north Lufkin residents have questions about the ownership and financial standing of the agency dedicated to Helping Other People Excel. The HOPE Center was founded by New Zion Baptist Church, which has been running it for six years now.
Kenebrew said, "This is our church's way of reaching out to the community because I believe it's one thing to preach to people, but it's another thing to actually put what you preach into action."
Kenebrew said not only is the HOPE Center up and running successfully, but the agency just got a $250,000 grant through DETCOG (Deep East Texas Council of Governments) for disaster relief services. The money is reimbursement for what was spent housing, feeding, and clothing hundreds of Rita and Katrina storm victims. The funds will help build quality housing for seniors who lost their homes in the hurricanes.
Executive Director Linda Pendland said, "There are not enough facilities to accommodate all the elderly, and we want to [build] new homes for them to give them a community of their peers so they can enjoy the rest of their lives."
The HOPE Center regularly provides free hot lunches to both members and non-members of New Zion. There are also computer literacy classes, screenings for STDs, and shelter for people displaced by natural disasters.