Chris Broas: Helping those for whom life is no picnic.

Chris Broas has made it her mission to help those for whom life is no picnic.

Thousands of homeless men, women, and children lined up on the lawn of Veteran’s Memorial for the fifth year of the H.O.P.E Picnic. It started small, maybe a hundred at first, at various parks, but then word started to spread, all because of Chris.

H.O.P.E stands for Homeless Outreach Programs and Events.

The idea for the event came to Christine during a 2004 ice storm. Chris didn’t have electricity for seven days and when she looked in the newspaper she saw a picture of a homeless man sitting in the frigid temperatures with his dog. She was inspired to do something to make a difference.

Her outreach started with helping people living under Columbus bridges and woods, and blossomed into an all-day event.

This past year, she rallied hospitals, students, health organizations, large and small businesses, and more than a 125 volunteers. Together, they served 2,600 meals, distributed hundreds of blankets, shoes, coats, and food items; provided hundreds of vision, health, dental, flu shots, HIV tests, haircuts, manicures and foot washings; and conducted small worship services to those in need.

The H.O.P.E. Picnic is more than just filling stomachs and giving out supplies. It has been catalyst for the Gahanna community, rallying volunteers from both Peace Lutheran Church and Stoneybook United Methodist Church.

When visiting the homeless camps, it was the loneliness of spirit that stuck Chris Broas – the craving of human companionship. Chris says, “There’s a fire that grabs your spirit and you don’t want to let go.” Her goal is to live and preach the gospel by saying as few words as possible.

The homeless men, women, and children in the Central Ohio community are better today because of the work of Christine.

There is no budget, no fundraising, no large corporate sponsors. This is a grassroots effort that has no paid staff or infrastructure: simply a talented woman who sees the opportunity, and the need, along with a corps of volunteers who appreciate share her vision.