Our History

Back in 2001 a group of volunteers from southern U.S. states recognized the need for food in West Virginia at four different food pantries. They saw that coal mines were closing. They saw that people in West Virginia were losing their jobs. They saw that families and children were going hungry. They saw that there was a consistent need for clothing and household items that they no longer had access to in their community.

McDowell County past is in the coal industry. For a century coal miners kept the electricity running throughout the country with the use of coal to run in energy plants and in homes. By the 1960s -70s, coal mines started closing and jobs were lost. Today McDowell County has one of the highest unemployment and high poverty rates in the United States.

1980s: Joseph “Jody” Webb, founder of Hands of Hope Ministries, was searching for a mission and was asking for what God wanted him to do. God slowly revealed to him where he was to serve. Then one evening he heard someone speak about the dire circumstances in West Virginia. Afterward, Jody started to send food from food pantries, church communities and food industries periodically to McDowell County, West Virginia on trucks and trailers.

1990s-2000s: Jody decided to start recruiting volunteers help in his efforts and built a model for what would become Hands of Hope Ministries, Inc.

2001: Jody made his first trip to West Virginia in November and delivered a trailer load of potatoes to four (4) food pantries. This started a relationship with the Tug Driver Mission in War Eagle, West Virginia. At the same time, Jody speaks with young pastors in Georgia who were once student pastors in the United Methodist Church to invest their strong faith into the Hands of Hope ministry. In addition, Lead by God relationships were also built to support this growing ministry through the United Methodist Church and many other denominations.

2002: Hands of Hope (Welch, West Virginia) incorporated and registered as non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization. A board of directors was organized.

Top photo: Many people in McDowell County cannot afford to have public utilities such as in-home running water or a well. Photo above: Although there are still a few mines running in the county, only 20 out of the 100 that once ran remain open.

Hands of Hope approached the McDowell County Board of Education for a possible donation of an empty Iaeger, West Virginia elementary school building for housing mission teams visiting McDowell County. The board approved the donation. Later, the first Hope Chest thrift store was opened on the bottom floor of this school building. But as Hands of Hope Ministries continued to grow so did its need for room, and it started to seek more facilities to expand its Christ-based, community-based impact in the community.

2003:  Jody devotes 100% of his time to Hands of Hope Ministries. He visits churches all over the southeast to gain support including in Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and North Carolina. A dozen church partnerships and teams were established, and between 40-50 churches were involved in numerous ways to support Hands of Hope Ministries including donating money, food or clothing.

2004-2006: The Virginia Crews Coal Company Building located in downtown Iaeger, West Virginia was donated to Hands of Hope Ministries. With the ability to adapt to community needs and guidance through their faith, Hands of Hope expands its Mission Center and The Hope Chest to this larger facility.

The current Hope Chest located on McDowell Street in Welch, WV.

2010: Obtained the first buildings in Welch, West Virginia and opened Hope Chest thrift stores in both Anawait, Bradshaw, and Welch, West Virginia. An increased presence grew in Welch, and there was an introduction of furniture and rugs at the Welch Hope Chest.

2010:  The First Presbyterian Church of Welch donates their facility to Hands of Hope Ministries. The church members continued to hold services, a Christian school, meeting during the week, and mission teams stayed in dorm rooms and held meetings for adults and children.

By 2010: Hand of Hope Ministries received a total of eight (8) buildings in Iaeger and Welch, West Virginia. At one time, Hands of Hope Ministries operated three (3) Hope Chest thrift stores and four (4) filling stations where meals were served to children.

2013: Jody moved into an executive position as Chairman of the Board of Director of Hands of Hope Ministries. Crystal Green was retained as Managing Director.

2015: Hands of Hope Ministries identified that it could no longer sustain numerous facilities in McDowell County and a large overhead. Furthermore, Hands of Hope Ministries recognized that a large majority of Hands of Hope Chest thrift store customers were traveling to The Hope Chest in Welch, West Virginia because it was the largest store with more household goods and furniture. All efforts and development were then moved toward the Welch facility.

to 2020: (COVID-19 Pandemic) Hands of Hope lost more than 25% of its income because mission teams cannot serve the organization in Welch, which covers the overhead cost to run the ministry.

The old Murphy building on McDowell Street will be the new location of The Hope Chest in 2022.

2021: Mission Teams return to Hands of Hope Ministries to serve. Crystal Green is retained as Executive Director of Hands of Hope Ministries.

2022: Hands of Hope Ministries to open its new Hope Chest store at the old Murphy’s store location in Welch, West Virginia.

For the past several years Hands of Hope Ministries has hosted more than 500 workers from numerous mission teams traveling from Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee and Michigan. And Hands of Hope Ministries is welcoming more every day.