By John Kelly, columnist
The Washington Post
December 10, 2016
From despair, hope
In 1968, the Rev. Tom Nees watched the riots that broke out in the wake of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination on the TV in his home in Dayton, Ohio. The knowledge that some of his white parishioners would be relieved that King was gone saddened him immensely.
Three years later, Nees moved to Potomac, Md., to lead another largely white church. Over time, he decided his talents were needed somewhere else: in the impoverished community along 14th Street NW. He founded a church, and with the small congregation renovated a decrepit 43-unit apartment building on Belmont Street NW.
The building provided housing for homeless families, but it provided other services, too: a health clinic, counseling, legal help. . . .
“We’re not saving souls,” Nees would say. “We’re saving people.”
In 1983, Nees speculated that subway construction was likely to mean they’d have to move the operation east of the Anacostia. And that’s where its descendant is today.
In 2016 alone, Community of Hope, the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that grew out of the Community of Hope of the Nazarene — the church Nees founded — has improved the lives of 700 District families, including 1,200 children. Nearly 10,000 low-income patients have received services at the charity’s three health centers.
Community of Hope is a partner in The Washington Post Helping Hand. Make a check payable to “Community of Hope” and mail it to: Community of Hope, Attn: Helping Hand, 4 Atlantic St. SW, Washington, D.C. 20032.
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