‘We Have to Step up to the Plate and Make the World a Better Place’
Why Christy volunteers at Hope Clinic
Why Christy volunteers at Hope Clinic
Christy Hoban is no stranger to volunteer work. For years, the Ann Arbor resident has sat on nonprofit organization boards and has been an active volunteer for many organizations, hospitals and schools in the area. Thus, when she heard the Hope Clinic needed more volunteers as the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the world, Christy’s reaction to step up was right in line with her desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives.
“I am blown away and in awe every time I walk in the door,” Christy says about the Hope Clinic and its volunteers.
The Hope Clinic, located in Ypsilanti and in Westland in Wayne County, provides free food, medical and dental care, social work services, laundry facilities and baby care items to those in need. Since 1982, the clinic has helped thousands of people across Southeast Michigan. In the last year alone, the clinics met more than 60,000 requests for help, according to their website.
Although Christy has worked at the clinic in Ypsilanti for only a few months, she radiates pure joy when she talks about the Hope Clinic and the people it serves. She was introduced to its local work when Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor needed assistance with a monthly dinner for those in need. Christy, who works as a basketball coach at the school, and her daughter signed up to help. The event inspired Christy to offer to coordinate future dinners hosted by the school. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Michigan, putting in-person dinners on hold and causing an increased demand for general volunteer help, Christy felt called to do more for the organization.
“Like many people, I was feeling uneasy about not being in control when the pandemic hit. My almost daily Masses and weekly adoration were gone. My faith life was lacking the support I needed,” she says. Thus, Christy began volunteering in the pantry once a week and distributing groceries twice a week. In the short amount of time she started volunteering, the demand for groceries tripled due to COVID-19 and the challenges it presents to so many families.
Christy went into the Hope Clinic thinking it would be a good way to help others, but she soon realized the work she was doing was fueling her faith and daily life.
“I am surrounded by an incredibly strong Catholic community [in my life], and it can feel daunting and even intimidating when you have not been brought up knowing the catechism inside and out, or not being able to converse eloquently in Catholic theological discussions. What I have learned, however, is that God doesn’t want perfect; he just wants us. Volunteering at the Hope Clinic is, for me, love in action and an active form of prayer,” she says.
Christy also helps with the clinic’s nightly to-go-style dinners. Volunteers cook the meals five days a week in the clinic’s kitchen, and then hand the meals out at the door. Before the pandemic, the people they served also engaged in community building and fellowship during in-person mealtime. Although the people cannot gather together now, Christy says they are still grateful to see the volunteers with whom they’ve built relationships.
Volunteering at the clinic has become a Hoban family affair because it’s important to Christy and her husband, Patrick, that their three children see and understand the importance of helping others, even if it’s through small tasks like bagging diapers or making hygiene kits.
“Right now, God has tasked us with so much, and we have to step up to the plate and make the world a better place,” she says.
Christy and her fellow volunteers could not help those in need without the gracious support of the community. Whenever they request a resource, the community delivers – oftentimes, in only a day. Recently, Christy was handing out groceries during a heat wave when a man in line asked if she knew where he could get a fan. Although the clinic didn’t have any in that moment, that would soon change after Christy suggested they request fan donations from the community.
“The next day, we had 20 fans and gave them out, and they’re still coming in,” she says, joyfully. “The name ‘Hope Clinic’ is appropriate because this is a place of hope. I have never felt this desperate pull toward something, and I can hardly believe a place as great as this is right in our backyard.”
Being a volunteer at the Hope Clinic is how Christy sees her Catholic identity – an identity based on service. While she understands many are facing fear and uncertainty during this trying time, Christy hopes others will find a light through the Hope Clinic, and join her in giving back to our brothers and sisters because it is through the clinic that Christy has witnessed the true power of caring for one another.
“Jesus wants us to meet everyone where they are at. Service to others is the way I can be God’s living reflection, even in a small way, and God is reflected back in everything Hope Clinic does,” she says. “I see the face of God in the staff, the volunteers and especially the people we serve. When you step out and help others as God has called us to do, it changes the lives of those you help, and your own life.”
For information about volunteer opportunities at the Hope Clinic, visit thehopeclinic.org.