By John Kelly
The Hope Day Network—which has a mission of “empowering churches, transforming communities, and loving people”—held a launch conference in February at Bethlehem Assembly of God in Valley Stream, New York.
The non-profit organization mobilizes churches in Metro New York City and some neighboring states to distribute food, clothing, school supplies, and other necessities to families in need. The recent conference helped local church leaders and volunteers learn about effective outreach, discipleship, and empowerment programs.
“Our primary goal is for communities to experience more of the love of God and the tangible hope of Jesus Christ that leads to life-changing transformation,” said Marlene Chin, a Hope Day Network representative. “It is our desire to change the perception of the church in our communities as people and families experience genuine compassion showed to them, not only on Hope Day, but every day.”
Hope Day was birthed through a series of Convoy of Hope events. Steve Milazzo, senior pastor of Bethlehem Assembly of God, took a step of faith and began brainstorming and dreaming of a way that churches could reach and transform their communities through volunteers. Hope Day Network has partnered with Convoy of Hope and hundreds of churches and organizations to launch Hope Day annually in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Delaware.
Since its inception, Hope Day has been held at 244 sites, galvanized 22,800 volunteers, and distributed 784,000 free pounds of groceries to over 133,000 guests. Over two million meals have been served. The organization has also given out 16,000 pairs of shoes. This year’s event will be held on June 3, 2023.
Chin elaborated on the vision of Hope Day, which is “to empower churches to partner with their communities and help guests uncover their personal value, so they in turn can be a productive contributor to their community.”
“The Hope Day Network comes alongside these churches to find ways to help community leaders by supporting public schools, foster care, adoption, food pantries, and soup kitchens,” Chin explained. “In addition, some of these churches also provide free back to school supplies, backpacks, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets to families in their communities that have been affected by sickness, loss of employment and finances, and other life-impacting circumstances.”
The launch conference kicked off with worship and a video of testimonies. Pastor Steve Milazzo talked about his desire to glorify God through the organization and “spread message of the cross.”
“That’s what this world needs to know and hear” Milazzo said. “You can see something great happen in your church and community.”
Pastor Milazzo called on attendees to start dreaming again coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Milazzo also thanked the lead pastors in room and had them stand. He presented a goal to expand to 40 Hope Day sites in the near future. The next key topic was helping churches approve follow up and assimilation plans to help attendees connect with a local church.
One of the highlights of the conference was hearing testimonies from past Hope Day guests. One said he felt like a star athlete being “cheered for” on his arrival. Another person commented on the genuineness of workers. All of those people were previously unchurched and joined a local congregation as a result of Hope Day.
“It gave us a sense of love and community. It just covered us” one woman said on stage. “You felt love.”
For more information on Hope Day, visit www.hopedaynetwork.org.