The Hope Chest — Indeed it is
It’s tiny, only about 600-square-feet. It’s open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. It’s been open for less than month.
Located on Market Street next door to the Olympia Restaurant, The Hope Chest is everything its name implies.
It’s operated by the House of Hope, the homeless shelter for women and their families located just a few blocks away.
To help prepare its residents for life beyond House of Hope, administrators had placed several residents in a low-key job-training program at a Dracut consignment store called Little Trends, which sold mostly kids’ clothes. The store was located on Mill Street.
House of Hope residents learned how to be punctual, how to operate a cash register and interact with the public.
“Their eyes just lit up when they went there,” House of Hope Executive Director Deb Chausse said. “It was really making a difference in their lives.”
The House of Hope folks, however, were crestfallen when Little Trends closed in February.
Around the same time, House of Hope received a $10,000 general operating expense grant from Eastern Bank, which is always helping out a local cause.
Realizing the importance of the job-training program, Chausse convinced her board of directors to use the grant to buy out Little Trends — its display racks, computer system and other retail odds and ends — resulting in the opening of The Hope Chest.
“It’s been just a great transition,” said Chausse.
With the Hope Chest, Chausse said House of Hope is attempting to meet three objectives:
• Continue the job-training program for residents, giving them “hope” there is indeed life after House of Hope.
• Ensuring neighborhood families have access to affordable clothing for newborns to teens.
• Instilling in the community a sense of giving, as all sale items are previously donated.
Hope Chest is managed by Nicole Burns, of Dracut. Currently, the store is being staffed by four, 20-hour-per week residents. As things get busier, Burns hopes more residents can come on.
“They’re trying so hard to put their best foot forward and clear the bar that we’re setting fairly high,” said Burns.
But Burns noted the employees aren’t alone in their excitement. Local residents, she said, are happy to have a place to shop that they can afford.
“Few can afford to go to the mall,” Burns said. “Many folks came in for Easter outfits and we were able to take care of them. We were happy and so were the customers.”
The House of Hope isn’t planning to get rich of the Hope Chest. It’s just hoping to cover expenses, such as salaries and monthly rent to the Coalition for a better Acre, which owns the space.
Chausse is hoping that soon the business can operate on Saturdays, and the product line can be expanded to include adult clothing.
Visit the store located at 397 Market St. or click on http://www.hopechestlowell.org.Explore posts in the same categories: The Column