Eye On KELOLAND: Spreading hope from a new location


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — From inexpensive clothing to bikes, to help with your physical and spiritual health, the Center of Hope is trying to positively impact the community one life at a time. The Sioux Falls ministry, celebrating 20 years of service, is now open at a brand new location on the old School for the Deaf campus in Sioux Falls.

In a spacious room that used to be home to a indoor pool, Lee Peneaux is getting some help with his ride thanks to volunteers at the Center of Hope. This is the Christian organization’s first week at this new location off 8th St.

“They’ve been really helpful to me as far as repair and just the spiritual guidance through life, you know,” Peneaux said.

Peneaux has lived in Sioux Falls for four years. He admits it’s been a challenge finding his place in the community.

“You know you can’t really live life in fear a lot of the times. You got to live by faith,” Peneaux said.

It’s a mantra he’s learned from Center of Hope. He comes here to fix up his bike with the resident experts. Those experts keep 1,000 people moving every year thanks to free parts and repairs.

Director Brett Rockvam says they also sell more than 500 bikes annually at minimal cost.

“We get donated bikes. Then we have a bunch of volunteers that repair them. People can come in and purchase one at a reduced price. Anywhere from $10-$60 in $5 increments. Or they can bring in the bike that they have and then they can work in the bike shop for free along with somebody else who will show them and teach them how to care for their bike,” Rockvam said.

Dozens of volunteers here keep their wheels spinning with other programs too. What used to be the old gym at the School for the Deaf is now full of gently-used, inexpensive clothes.

“It’s people who are struggling with life and trying to make ends meet. We’re trying to stretch the budget. So if you’re working hard but having a hard time making ends meet, come down and see us. Maybe we can get some clothes for your kids,” Rockvam said.

JoAnn Schwartz has been coming here off and on for 19 years. Her first experience came when her life was at an all-time low.

“I was getting a divorce and my kids were taken away. They helped me out,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz comes weekly for bible study. Center of Hope has also helped her pay for a walker among other things.

“The people that are so friendly. They want to help you. They don’t want to throw you away in the garbage like a lot of people do,” Schwartz said.

“It don’t matter who you are or what you are. What color, race, religion, they’ll help you out,” Schwartz said.

Holsen: What would you do if this place didn’t exist?

Peneaux: Wow. I don’t know what I’d do if Center of Hope didn’t exist. Life would probably tough enough as it is. Thank God they’re here and I’m here. Time to keep moving forward.

That’s exactly what Center of Hope plans to do with its new building. Rockvam says the organization’s mission is to walk alongside people as they look to better themselves physically and spiritually. He believes it’s made a big impact in the community.

“It’s fun to see some of the people that come back and they’re doing great and they’re back on their feet and they’re interacting in society,” Rockvam said.

Rockvam says interacting with other nonprofits will be an important benefit to its new location on the Empower Campus.

“We’re very excited about this because the possibilities of new things that we haven’t even dreamt about yet could be there,” Rockvam said.

There are plenty more fish in the sea looking for guidance. Center of Hope also features on campus nurses and rides to the food pantry.

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