Positively Buffalo: Bringing Hope to Western New Yorkers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A western New York group, known as The Hope Project, is fighting to support the working poor.

The charity started on a Lancaster woman’s driveway 3 years ago and it’s gone full circle.

From pants and pajamas to deodorant and home decor… it looks like a store where you would shop for the latest trends.

“You want them to have a sense of pride in what they’re wearing, said Dee Miller, the founder of The Hope Project.

It has all the feels of a department store, too.

“We have dressing rooms now… WOOO!” said Dee.

But it’s so much more than just a place to shop.

The Hope Project marks a fresh start after tragedy.

“I can pass them in TOPS and I’ll say ‘how’s the new house from a fire’ and they’ll say great thank you so much! And that’s just the way it is!” said Dee.

It also helps the working poor supply what they need for their family.

“You can put a roof over your head for your children you can put food on the table but you may not be able to properly clothe them for school or go through the growth spurts… or purchase school supplies,” said Dee.

Dee and her crew have come a long way.

All of this — started on her Lancaster driveway.

“It’s incredible to watch – especially when you’re there from the very beginning. From starting in 90 degree weather sorting clothes in a driveway and then finding a place that we can actually call our own. And then… getting larger than that. We’re getting larger than that right now,” said Marlene Stoerr.

Marlene is one of what Dee calls “the Original Driveway people”.

The people she’s met through The Hope Project have had a major impact on her life.

“Very, very emotional… I mean you cry with them. You cry with the story and then you cry for happiness because they’re so thrilled and so grateful for what you did for them,” said Marlene.

Jill Hazelet agrees.

The day we met her, she was hard at work unpacking boxes and sorting clothes.

But that’s not how it’s always been.

“I’ve always worked my whole entire life and then I had some medical issues and my son has medical issues,” said Hazelet.

At one point, Jill was on the receiving end.

Dee and The Hope Project stepped in.

“She’s done a lot for me. I’m a tough person. For me to cry it says a lot. To have somebody like that who’s still there to help through all of this… She’s made me believe in humanity again,” said Hazelet.

“We just want people to feel like we are all the same. That we are all fighting a battle and we can all back each other and we can all get through this thing together,” said Dee.

A woman, on a mission, to make a difference and provide hope.

The Hope Project is always looking for donations.

They’re located in the Eastern Hills Mall and just had a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark their opening. You can contact them here.

If you have a story about people doing good in your community, let us know.

Send an email to positivelybuffalo@wivb.com

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