The Hope Chest opens as help on path to women’s recovery

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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VIDOR — Eastgate United Pentecostal Church opened The Hope Chest, a non- profit thrift store, to fund the women’s recovery program that is opening next door to the church.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays at 18905 Interstate 10 in Vidor.

The store is exclusively women’s clothes, shoes and accessories.

“This began in my closet,” said Joani Droddy, director of the drug recovery ministry. “The women who would join the recovery program would eventually start coming to church, so they needed clothes to wear for service or to get a job.”

This led to the public donating clothes to Droddy until her closet became too crowded.

“I knew the rooms in the back of the church were not occupied, so I asked Pastor Matthew Tuttle if I could store some of the clothes there,” she said.

The idea for a successful non-profit thrift store became a two-day-a week fundraiser.

“All of the women’s items are donated,” she said. “We sort through it, price it and keep each item ten dollars and under. The proceeds go into the ministry account to go towards a reentry program that is being built next door.”

Women exiting Orange County Jail who want more recovery time can stay at the residence.

A view inside The Hope Chest, located 18905 I-10 in Vidor. Proceeds from the store go into a ministry account that benefit a reentry program. (Sierra Kondos/Special to The Leader)

“Women who want to reenter society and do not have a safe and positive environment to rehabilitate can stay at the parsonage,” Droddy said. “The program lasts between six to nine months. This is not a 12-step program but we do work in increments of 12 weeks. We are faith-based, but we dig deep inside ourselves to discover why we choose to do these things. It is a deep program, and the success rate is between 92 and 94 percent since Nov. 10, 2020.”

Droddy’s her passion to help women rehabilitate stems from her time in prison.

“My past is why I have such a burden and passion to help other women reenter society in a safe and supportive environment,” she said. “And a lot of women who are graduates of the True-Life Changes Recovery Group work at the store and are a part of this team. True Life Recovery Group is for recovering drug addicts, gambling addictions, etc.”

Women in the program work the first two months at the thrift store until they receive proper documentation to work elsewhere.

Identification cards and social security cards are a process to get back.

Droddy’s journey with Eastgate United Pentecostal Church began nine years ago.

She was coming off drugs and did not know where to go or what to do. She needed to change her life and walked down to this church, and “God filled me with the spirit,” she said.

“I got to change my life. So, nine years later, I can look back and see how God is using me, and this place is really, really cool,” she said. “I feel like my life has come full circle. Every week I lead the drug ministry recovery at the Orange County Jail, as well as minister the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Droddy said the next endeavor is to create a tea-room in the adjacent room.

“Women don’t have a place locally to enjoy tea and shop, and I hope that we can bring this to our town,” she said. “What God plans to do with this business, only he knows, but I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us.”

Those interested in donating women’s clothing or joining the recovery program can call 409-932-6339.

— By Sierra Kondos