The Hope Center
“What’s your problem?” my dad would frequently implore people. “Everyone should have a problem!” His ‘problem’ was the gang violence, broken families, poverty, and hopelessness amongst the African-American youth in our inner city of Omaha, Nebraska. It was his great zeal and faith that compelled this white, suburban youth pastor to move his young family mid-town and birth The Hope Center for Kids.
The Hope Center is an after-school program that provides at-risk children and teenagers with tutoring, employability training, and a hot meal every night, while modeling a strong faith component to tangibly impart HOPE to these valued individuals.
My dad’s love for marginalized people in the inner city is an aspect of his legacy to which I often feel connected. He was a true pioneer. His willingness to leave the stability and comfort of the suburbs and begin his work at the Hope Center strikes such a chord with me. Faith with feet. Tangible Christianity. It takes my breath away that I’ve had such a genuine example my entire life. Seeing my dad and mom live out their convictions has shaped my own journey greatly. Paul and I moved our family to our current zip code in part because of my dad’s legacy and the link it represents to Dad’s vision of a thriving inner city.
The work of the Hope Center continues even after the passing of my parents. Every day, a wonderful staff works to flesh out Dad’s dream of providing hope to young people.
ABIDE’s founder, Ron Dotzler, was an instrumental figure and collaborator as my dad launched The Hope Center. ABIDE, along with The Hope Center, serves the inner city of Omaha. ABIDE’s vision that “everyone and every neighborhood would have the opportunity to reach their God-given potential” is the heartbeat behind their Lighthouse Program. Abandoned, run-down, or foreclosed properties are often donated or purchased by ABIDE and completely renovated with gifted materials and labor. These restored homes become inhabited by families who share a desire to see the most vulnerable areas of our city transformed through the building of community amongst neighbors. Block parties and other neighborhood events are vital ways connections are formed.
Ron’s son, Josh Dotzler, is the CEO, and Paul came on staff as the Chief Operations Officer (COO) in January of 2016. We moved into a lighthouse that summer. It is a privilege and honor to work alongside such dear friends and passionate advocates for city transformation.
Bridge Church (a partner of ABIDE) connects a diverse community on a spiritual level. Paul and I serve on the leadership team at Bridge and have marveled at the many lives that are revolutionized through association to a family of faith.