Hope Ministries emergency programs.

Residents that are local to St. Joseph County can contact Hope Ministries for the possibility of short term, financial aid and case management. The charity uses proceeds raised from its thrift store as well as donations to help low income families in a crisis.

Assistance may be available using federal or state grant programs, such as LIHEAP, of which residents can get applications to it. Also, while more limited, additional support is from free food pantries or direct assistance from Hope Ministries, and this will often rely on donations from local volunteers and businesses.

Any type of monetary support is for people who are in a temporary financial crisis. Staff from the non-profit will interview applicants and review their financial situation. When possible, there there may financial aid offered, and some of those requirements include but are not limited to the following.

  • Applicants needs to have a Photo ID.
  • Proof of residence for the city of South Bend or county of St. Joseph.
  • A formal application needs to be completed.
  • Copy of lease or utility bills, as well as pay or quit notice.
  • Proof of household income for adults. This will include  last month’s bank account statement, pay stubs, Tax Return, or government subsidies such as SSI payments.
  • Hope Ministries requires documentation of a one time, financial crisis.

Based on the results, staff will determine how Hope Ministries can best assist those in need. Applicants may qualify for the following.

  • Assistance for past-due, critical needs such as utilities, rent, or prescription medicine.
  • Medical equipment on loan, such as crutches, wheelchairs, and similar goods.
  • Food assistance from a local pantry or food bank.
  • LIHEAP applications are designed to help eligible low-income St. Joseph County residents meet the high cost of home heating.
  • If funding is not available, referrals can be provided to loan programs.
  • Rental assistance through the Section 8 Rental Voucher program, which is a government benefit funded by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.




When applying for financial support, people will also need to enroll into self-sufficiency services. This is required as the aid is one time only, and is a hand up and not a hand out. So those services in St. Joseph County are as follows.

Adult Basic Literacy Education can improve skills and the educational knowledge of the less fortunate. The program will show people how important education relates to family literacy and how it can make a difference.

Clients will partner with teachers to review the improved practice of writing, speaking, reading listening, and math skills. The adult educator will become a participant in the process of learning and growth, and they will help students meet their goals. Classes will also address family issues which are barriers to improving educational levels.

Numerous other job training and employment placement programs are available in partnership with organizations such as the St. Joseph County Workforce Development Agency. Agencies work together to offer various support services to job seekers or the underemployed.

Whether someone is a client of Hope Ministries or not, any individual can visit the local One-Stop Job Center and receive one-on-one assistance. The topics will address a wide range of employment and training related activities, whether they are construction oriented, IT, or some other career.





During some years, between June and August, local agencies operate the Summer Crisis Cooling Program. Regulations for this benefit may vary slightly from year to year, but there may be cash grants for air conditioning bills for any low income individual over 60 or someone with a respiratory condition. If qualified, individuals may receive a one-time payment on their electric bill. In some cases, non-profits will provide a new window air conditioner or fan to those that meet income guidelines.

Food pantry referrals are also available, if Hope Ministries can't help from the resources above. Any groceries or assistance is distributed primarily through a network of local food pantries established by churches and charity organizations. They do this in cooperation with agencies such as Hope Ministries and the Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP).

Lastly, thrift stores in St. Joseph County are for the general public. The locations sell everything from clothing to furniture. Anyone can shop there, and one main reason to do this is the money raised from the sale of items is used to fund the programs listed above. So even by shopping at a thrift store, this too can benefit lower income families.

Most of this aid comes in the form of referrals. Hope Ministries is located at 432 S. Lafayette Blvd., South Bend, Indiana 46601. Call (574) 235-4150.



By Jon McNamara

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