Grass Roots Beginning
New Hope Center sprang from the efforts of thirteen families who, in January of 1953, began an Association to advocate for their children with disabilities. One parent in attendance at their very first meeting was quoted as saying “We must speak for these children who cannot speak for themselves.” The Superintendent of the Chilton Public Schools pledged his support of the group and predicted that “this small group would soon become a powerful force.” Shortly thereafter, Special Education Classes were offered to area children with disabilities for the first time.
New Hope Was Born
The Association worked hard to promote and support the school program. Their efforts were well received by area communities, and their membership began to grow. Over time, the Association began to realize that there had to be another program to assist individuals who were not in school. At their meeting on October 18, 1965 the Association passed a motion to create a program to be known as “New Hope.” A Board of Directors was established and space was obtained in the basement of an area nursing home. New Hope began providing educational and recreational services for ten individuals.
The Early Years
As enrollment increased, a larger facility was needed, and in 1970 the Board of Directors began a fund drive to construct a building. It was estimated that over ninety percent of area residents contributed to the campaign, and on October 20, 1971 the first Board meeting was held in the new facility. The increased space allowed New Hope to serve 50 individuals. Also during 1971, the organization officially became known as New Hope Center, Inc. In 1975 an addition doubled the size of the new facility. This allowed New Hope Center to offer a wider variety of services to an increasing number of individuals.
A significant expansion occurred in 2008 when Roads to Freedom, Inc merged into and became part of New Hope Center, Inc. Founded by many of the same people who started NHC, Roads to Freedom’s non-profit mission focused on providing homes for individuals with disabilities. Resulting from the merger, NHC acquired three additional residential facilities. Combining the two agencies affords individuals an opportunity to receive a full array of integrated and coordinated services from one agency. As an added benefit, the merger has diminished duplication of administrative overhead resulting in cost reductions to taxpayers.
New Hope Center, Inc. Today
Since its creation, NHC continues to change based on the needs of those served. On the first day of operation, New Hope owned a table and chairs and served ten individuals. Today, several buildings, a fleet of vehicles, a team of dedicated staff, and volunteers allow NHC to serve approximately 150 individuals each year. Services have expanded to include a variety of vocational opportunities, residential services, personal care, adult day services, and specialized transportation. NHC’s success can be attributed to strong support from area individuals, service organizations, businesses and County government. With the continuation of that support, NHC is well prepared to meet the challenges of the future.