History of Henderson Christian Community Outreach
(Part of this letter was found in the HCCO archives.)
Many individuals in crucial need have traditionally turned to a church for help. In 1983, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church found that many of these needs could be heard effectively by a volunteer staff. These individuals interviewed clients, kept records and granted funds, thereby freeing their clergy from frequent interruptions during other pastoral duties. The ministers at First United Methodist Church were receiving similar requests and often by the same clients. No records were being kept there. Both churches realized that they often were giving aid and sending the clients down the street to the other church. A logical move was a joint effort.
The volunteers of St. Paul’s trained the volunteers from First Methodist. In September 1984, it was decided to use First Methodist as headquarters because an extra phone line was available. The same requests were being made at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church and they also joined the program. Each of the three churches agreed to give $500.00 a month to the cause. Other offerings or private donations were also received. First Methodist designated the fourth Sunday of every month as Hunger Sunday, and half of that offering went to Outreach.
Chapel Hill Methodist Church was interested in a similar program. Since their church was located away from the mainstream of need, they decided to stock a food pantry upstairs and this provided a much-needed part of Outreach beginning in the fall of 1985.
At this time more attention was given to the retaining of volunteers. Ron Graul, who had been involved in social work in Evansville, led a series of weekly sessions devoted to such subjects as interviewing techniques and the functions of a number of local agencies to which we could refer clients. We had representatives from human resources, Section 8 housing, and rehabilitation. Forms for client registration were revised. Assistance was given twice a week, Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons.
There were some problems, one being the lack of privacy since usually three volunteers interviewed at one table in the library at the same time. Also, some clients tended to roam the building. Smoking was frowned upon. Those waiting to be interviewed were seated in the main hall and this created problems when other activities were taking place at the church. Carrying groceries up and down the steps was a real labor of love.
A more widespread program was envisioned with other churches throughout the county participating. The Ministerial Association became very supportive and several meetings were held at Immanual Baptist Temple in an effort to generate more support from members of other churches.
In June 1986, Outreach moved into the old PB&S Chemical Company building at 1100 North Adams, which had been offered for use free of charge by Ray Preston. Many changes in operational procedure were made. We believed a director at this point could pull loose ends together and develop a real community asset.
Our initial Board of Directors were; Les Hudson, Pat Klinger, Mary Herrera, Jean Tillotson, Ron Graul, Carolyn Gregory, Jan Kenney, and Jane Kennedy.
With vision and forethought and seeing a need for the community of Henderson, Pat Klinger, Mary Herrera and Jean Tillotson, petitioned the State of Kentucky for Articles of Incorporation for Henderson Christian Community Outreach as of October 16, 1986.
With the PB&S Chemical Company building up for sale, Christian Outreach began the search for a new place to call home. Once again, we were blessed with a rent- free building donated by Dudley Everson. We were all moved in at 418 Seventh Street before September 1989.
As the need for Christian Outreach continued to grow, we found ourselves in need of additional space. The United Way, one of our supporters, came for their service visit. Their only negative comment was lack of space and suggested Christian Outreach find ourselves a new location. In February 1997 discussions began and on Wednesday September 3, 1997 HCCO would relocate right next door at 422 seventh street. Billy F Herron was retiring and would rent us the building. Barry’s Pharmacy donated cabinets, First National donated four three-drawer filing cabinets, an adding machine, IBM electric typewriter, and a chair. Glen Mabry, the then-president of the board donated a chest type freezer. By this time, HCCO was being supported by 25 local churches, civic groups, Sunday School classes, church women’s groups, as well as individual donors.
Once again, we found ourselves needing a new location as our building had been listed for sale. Parking had become a huge issue. Discussions were held to consider moving to a location with ample parking and the ability for our clients can walk or ride the bus. During Christmas 2015 and New Year’s 2016, we moved to our current location 700 North Green Street. Moving was a sight to see. As we were moving less than 200 feet, volunteers pushed shopping carts from one location to the next.
What does the future hold for Christian Outreach? In November 2019, we were gifted a plot of land. Hopefully in the fall of 2020 we will launch a capital campaign to finance the new location.