Hastings Family Service bids farewell to Chris Koop after 17 years as executive director | News
In one of her last days as executive director of Hastings Family Service, Chris Koop sits in her office recounting her time with the organization over the past 17 years.
Tears in her eyes as she recalls her first day on the job when she saw first hand the help the organization provides to families and how HFS has adapted and expanded its services during the pandemic.
“It’s just an amazing place,” Koop said. “This community has made this place more than just a bag of food, more than a hot meal delivered, more than clothes on our backs, but a place where we can come together and work together for the right reasons.”
Koop said she loves working with the nonprofit and meeting so many people in the community through it.
“This community won’t let anything political, let a pandemic or anything else stop us from coming together,” she said. “And my biggest hope and my biggest prayer is that it continues.”
When she was executive director of Hastings Family Service, Koop helped shape the organization into the community support system it is today.
Koop, whose last day was Friday, has led the organization since 2005, during which time she helped develop the agency’s volunteers and expand its services.
Since starting nearly two decades ago, Koop said HFS has “tried to adapt to environmental changes in our community and have conversations with our neighbors to learn how we can be the best we can be.” “.
Koop recalled her first day as executive director when she saw a family come into the organization looking for help that illustrates the importance of the organization in Hastings.
“They ended up sharing that they really didn’t have a lot of food at home and what they had they saved for the two-year-old because they didn’t want him to get food pass,” she said.
It was the first time Koop realized there were starving people in Hastings.
“It was the first time I had met someone who was hungry and it certainly wasn’t the last time,” she said.
The nonprofit has grown a lot since that day, Koop said.
The pandemic in particular has brought a lot of growth to the organization, according to Koop, who said the pandemic has shown the need to shift services to meet community needs.
Under his leadership, HFS pioneered new ways to distribute food, from its indoor shelf to implementing a drive-thru shelf.
“We were able to make the decision to make it a permanent program because this community wanted it,” she said.
HFS also recently purchased a refrigerated vehicle that allows the organization to collect more food for its food shelf as well as distribute food to seniors’ residences and schools.
Today, the organization is in the midst of a renovation as it prepares to expand its services into the nearby building it recently purchased.
“We did this because the services we expanded during the pandemic required more prep space, more packing space, more sorting space, and more our space was not conductive for everything. that,” Koop said.
And while Koop helped usher in this period of immense change and expansion for the organization, she is now passing the baton to Amy Sutton.
Sutton, who has worked for Hastings Family Service for more than 12 years as development director and associate director, began her first day as current chief executive on Monday, while Koop left to spend more time with her grandchildren. .
“Chris will be missed. She was not only a leader at Hastings Family Service, but a leader in the community,” Sutton said.
Together, Sutton and Koop have worked as a team to grow the organization and the services it provides over the past decade.
“I hired her 12 years ago to be our director of development and she has really improved all of our fundraising plans and campaigns so that we can be responsive, make changes and have the resources we need” , said Koop.
As Sutton steps into her role as chief executive, Koop said she will continue to do a great job for the organization.
Sutton said she is committed to continuing the dedication to HFS and the community that she learned from Koop and that they built together.
“There are so many good things ahead of us and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to push things forward,” she said.