MALVERN, Ark. – Hope is on the horizon for the homeless in Hot Spring County as a nonprofit is working to open the county’s first shelter.
Day in and day out, Melissa Sparks and Clare Graham stock a blessing box in downtown Malvern to give those in need food and other necessities.
“Homelessness can happen to anybody. You know it’s one sickness, one medical bill,” Graham said.
Graham knows that firsthand.
“That’s what happened to my family,” Graham said. “We lived in cars. We lived with different kind people. That’s the reason we want to give back.”
In Hot Spring County it’s not as easy as making a donation.
“We saw that there wasn’t resources,” Graham said.
Together, she and Sparks created Finding Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to getting those resources to whoever needs them. As of 2018, that number was more than 500, but Graham said it’s only increased since then.
“I can tell you since the pandemic, it has just skyrocketed with the people we see,” Graham said.
With the increase in homelessness, the duo was looking for a little bit bigger space to continue serving the community. So, they bought an acre of land just outside Malvern and plan to build the county’s first shelter.
“The first step would be to have the community room with the showers and laundry and cooking availabilities,” Sparks said.
This won’t just be a place to find a warm bed or grab a hot meal.
“We want to give them back their self-worth,” Sparks said. “We want them to feel like I’m doing this. I’m not getting a handout.”
The goal is to help each person out of their situation and find a home of their own.
“To help change lives,” Sparks said.
Graham and Sparks just bought the property and are working on clearing it. If you would like to donate to Finding Hope you can visit their website https://www.findinghopearkansas.com/.