A Conversation with Chris Sperry
Photo by Carli Wentworth
IT WOULD HARD TO FIND A MORE FITTING NAME for a nonprofit than the HOPE Center of Edmond. As the calendar dwindles to one page, the HOPE Center is looking ahead to 2014, its 30th year of serving the Edmond community by providing food, clothing, household items and financial assistance for rent and utilities.
The HOPE Center’s Executive Director, Chris Sperry, spoke with us this month about the importance of volunteerism, the innate goodness within us all and the one message that transcends all socio-economic and cultural lines: hope.
What is your hometown? Midwest City.
A Bomberette? No, a Titan.
How long have you been at the HOPE Center of Edmond? I came as a volunteer in January 1998, and I’ve been executive director for six years.
What’s the best part of your job? I’m a people person. I like clients and volunteers and I love feeling like we’ve made a difference in all their lives.
What is your husband’s name? Ken.
Do you have kids? Yes, we have four – two boys and two girls.
What’s the best lesson you’ve taught your kids? Be kind no matter what.
Have your kids volunteered at the HOPE Center? Yes, my three older children have all worked here.
What are you currently obsessed with? Temple Run 2! I’m on level nine.
And what does that mean to the layperson? That I no longer have to be embarrassed by my level in Temple Run 2.
Can you do anything most people have to call in a professional to do? I can sew. I can make curtains. And I can do taxes.
What’s a risk worth taking? Giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
What day is your birthday? December 21.
Happy birthday! What can they get you for your birthday? Pandora charms. Chocolate in a gold box with a “G” on it!
What will you accomplish by the end of this year if it kills you? I hope to memorize Mozart’s Sonata in C. I’m close.
What are you currently learning to do? Speak Spanish.
What can’t you resist watching on TV? “Justified,” a very well-written series on FX.
What TV character reminds you most of yourself? Claire Dunphy on “Modern Family.”
Whom do you think you could be mistaken for? Cheryl Woods, our volunteer coordinator. People always ask if we’re sisters!
What were your parents and teachers wrong about? I’ve come to the point in my life that I’m convinced my parents were brilliant. My teachers were a different story – stuff they thought was important turned out not to matter much.
What was the last movie that made you cry? An old classic, “The Green Berets.”
Is there a character trait you’d gladly give up? I’d like to be – how should I put this – “less spontaneous.”
Which trait is one of your best? I’d like to think it’s kindness and concern for people.
What bump in the road turned out to be a blessing in your life? Years ago, I applied to go to PA school, but the timing just didn’t seem right, so I decided against it. The decision not to do it led to this opportunity at the HOPE Center.
What do you value most in your friends? Honesty.
What’s the last book you read? “Never Go Back,” a Jack Reacher novel by Lee Child.
What examples did your parents model? My mom has volunteered for Meals On Wheels since I was young. I grew up helping out with that and it taught me the importance of caring for other people. Both my parents taught me the value of hard work, education and the value of people and family.
What words have you eaten? “Never” and “always” and whatever follows those words.
If you could have another name, what would it be? Celeste.
What do you wish you were better at saying “no” to? Overcommitting myself.
What advice would you put inside a fortune cookie? Be happy.
What traditions does the HOPE Center have for the holidays? Every year, we have a program called Adopt-A-Family, which matches families in need with sponsor families at Christmastime.
How would someone learn more about becoming a sponsor family? The sponsor application is available on our website at www.hopecenterof
The new year is a milestone for the HOPE Center. Thirty years is impressive! What makes 30 years especially significant is that we’ve been privately funded all that time. Our success is directly related to support from the community.
How will you all mark the anniversary? We’re hosting a gala on March 29, where we’ll be raffling off a house from McCaleb Homes!
What do you want others to know about the HOPE Center? That this is a place where people who need assistance will be treated with respect and kindness … and leave feeling hopeful.