Hope Abounds

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Hope is alive and thriving on the eastside of Houma! Through the untiring help of a local organization, great strides are being made in meeting the educational, physical, and emotional needs of those who are marginalized and under-resourced.

Hope Extreme is a faith based, 501(c)3 non-profit with a mission of providing holistic, revitalizing, and life-changing programs that empower the marginalized and under-resourced with hope. 

Tara Detiveaux, executive director of Hope Extreme, takes us back to the organization’s humble beginnings on the eastside of Houma.  

“We actually started in 2009 with some street programs on the eastside of Houma. That year we did a Thanksgiving meal and realized that that was not going to be enough,” explained Tara. “From there we started the non-profit Hope Extreme with several young people in town. We focused on going out and helping kids, mostly our local students. We purchased a building off of Roselawn near East Street and offered an afterschool program for students. We also had services for teenagers. We had a basketball court in the back as well. However, we quickly outgrew it!”

In 2015, Hope Extreme was able to purchase an old drug store building on Grand Caillou Road. The building was large enough to house all their programs, along with a church to offer faith services to the community. As the building grew, so did their hopes and dreams. 

“After the renovations were complete in 2016, we expanded from there yet again!” smiled Tara. “We still have our afterschool program. Kids get off the bus here from Honduras and Acadian [Elementary Schools], kindergarten through 4th grade, and they spend two hours with us on Monday and Tuesdays to get help with homework and also enjoy electives. And then we van them home. On Wednesdays, all of our teenagers come. We van them in from the surrounding neighborhoods on the eastside of Houma. Anybody can come, from 12 to 18 years old.”

The heartbeat of Hope Extreme has always been children. But as the years passed by, Tara and her staff realized the need had grown once again to include the entire family unit. 

“We started working with families because we realized to help our kids be better, we need to have healthier and better families,” shared Tara. “We saw that our kids were growing up and needed a place to bring in their families. So we actually have families that are still here from the moment that we opened in 2009, but now have their kids that are enrolled here. The heart of Hope Extreme is to do this not just for one generation, but for a lifetime of commitment to the eastside.” 

In 2021, Hurricane Ida threw a curve ball into the program that was still pushing to return to normal after Covid-times. The eastside of Houma has struggled to return after the devastating storm. Homes in that area are in worse condition than immediately after the storm. Hope Extreme assessed the needs of their community and once again stepped up to meet them, opening Hope Fridge.

“Right now, our community is changing. Homelessness is increasing here in the parish after Ida,” Tara explained. “We saw the needs become even more tremendous because the east side has not rebounded at all, like a lot of the other communities. We’re seeing people still living in houses that are now worse than when the storm hit. You see very little movement on these homes or the businesses. You just don’t see the vitality coming back. But that’s sort of where we come in. Hope is still here. With all the food banks that I know of being on the other side of town, we started a community fridge called Hope Fridge.”

Hope Fridge is a community pantry and refrigerator/freezer that is located at Hope Extreme. The idea is there will always be something there for you to eat, no questions asked. Food donations come from Terrebonne Churches United Food Bank, Plymouth Rock Food Bank, as well as local organizations, such as Houma Christian School, doing food drives. People in the community also assist by dropping off fresh fruits and vegetables from their own personal gardens. 

“We try to load up the fridge with fresh options, food that will sustain people,” shared Tara. “We service not only the homeless, but the underprivileged and just low income families. Any one who has a need. Right now with inflation, and electricity bills doubling, insurance bills doubling, something has to give. We have been blessed to be able to open this Fridge. We have also been able to do small donations of items such as kitchen wares, slightly used clothing, warm jackets and blankets in the pantry. We just ask that if you drop items outside of our hours, that things are done neatly and orderly.” 

The needs of the community continue to be met, as Hope Showers is on schedule to open by Christmas. The showers will allow anyone who needs it, to be able to have a fresh, warm water shower, along with a care package of soap and a towel. The showers will only be open during Hope Extreme business hours, and will be locked with an entry code. Shower heads will be timed as well. 

Hope continues to abound as Tara looks forward to 2023. There are many unmet needs still in the community that they hope to be able to address in the new year. 

“Our vision moving forward is to add in what we’ll call Hope Hangout,” shared Tara. “Just a really nice place for the east side because there’s nothing around here. There are parks on the east side, but they’re riddled with behavior that’s not suitable for families. We want to create a hangout in the front, have maybe a sand volleyball court and a nice basketball court. Maybe some kind of an eatery place where you can hang out with picnic tables, and a little park in the front for your family. And again, it’s just, we see the need in East Houma for fun things that don’t lead you into trouble. Something, maybe on Friday nights – local music or some kind of game night – for the kids and teens and families to come and enjoy! That’s where the heart is, to get that open in 2023.”

Just as Hope Extreme serves our community, they are hopeful that the community will help serve them. The biggest need this holiday season at Hope Extreme is illumination! They are hosting a fundraising campaign called “Light It Up!” 

Hurricane Ida took down all the light poles in their parking lot. Unfortunately, insurance did not cover the lot. Without lights in the parking lot, the darkness can be overwhelming. Safety is of the utmost concern to Tara, as people do come at all hours to visit the Hope Fridge, soon Hope Showers, and in the future, Hope Hangout. With nightfall coming sooner, it is dark when the vans are loading up to bring children home in the evening. 

“We’ve been looking into the cost of repairing the poles, but that is a little too high,” explained Tara. “We think we will instead put bright lights on the building to shine into the parking lot, which we can do at a much reduced cost. We can add in more lighting as we need it and really light the place up!”

Volunteers are also always needed at Hope Extreme. With their after school programs, they are always in need of individuals who can sit down with the children and help with homework. Other ways you can help this ministry include donations of items from their wishlist, or by keeping the Fridge in mind through the holidays. If it’s in your heart to donate food after a large family or corporate party, food can be separated into servings, placed into labeled zip top bags (what it is and the date it was bagged), and left in the refrigerator. Fresh fruit from winter trees is always welcome as well. 

John 13:35 reminds us “By this, all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Hope Extreme exists in our community not just to serve, but to encourage a love for one another, and to foster extreme hope for the future. 

Find wish lists, donation opportunities, volunteer forms and more at hopeextreme.org.