“House of Hope 12” sits next to a barber shop in a near-empty former shopping center off East Main Street in Prattville. The storefronts are empty. The former probation and parole office has moved. And men sitting in chairs getting their hair cut briefly glance up as Tammy Butts walks by. She waves. And then opens the door to a space that provides hope, and a sense of restoration.
Ironic, maybe, that the nonprofit she founded with her husband, Ronnie, sits among so much room for growth. Because that is what her nonprofit provides others: an opportunity to become whole again through the distribution of food, clothes, and the use of resources to help them find jobs.
Tammy explains, “I can’t tell you how many women come in there and who have accepted Christ because of the love, because someone has said,
‘Let me walk beside you.’”
It is an ongoing investment Butts makes for House of Hope 12. And she not only welcomes women to reach out to her at her ministry, but she reaches out as well: to those incarcerated, and to the elderly at a local apartment complex.
To make this happen, Tammy Butts collects 300 pounds of food every week.
From both the Montgomery Area Food Bank and through friends and family, the food collected goes to those who need a meal, those hurting in the neighborhood, and those needing assistance upon their release from jail.
She also partners with the local markets and grocery stores to help with hygiene products and other household items. She remains in need of more Bibles.
As a ministry, House of Hope 12 offers a food pantry which is open to the public on Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Casseroles are prepared one day each week for those who can’t prepare meals for themselves – and the entrees feed up to four people.
And if they can’t afford the $5 casseroles … “then God will provide,” Butts said.
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
The prayer and mission of the ministry is: to help others walk with Jesus and teach them to know that there is hope when all hope seems lost.
Butts has witnessed several women from jail and prison turn their lives around because of the outreach provided. There is hope for those who seem heavy-burdened and weary, she has said.
The ministry also provides:
• A women’s Bible study that is taught exploring the Scriptures, having a time of prayer, and devotion. The one-hour gathering takes place on Wednesdays at 11 a.m.
• A clothing and hygiene closet that is open to the public, and includes shoes, shampoo, soaps and toiletries.
• Love letter mission writing: writing letters of encouragement to inmates behind prison and jail walls to offer hope to those incarcerated who have no hope. HOH12 encourages others to send cards and letters. “How amazing to be able to give a gift of love and a Bible to someone who feels hopeless and unloved.”
Butts has a culinary background, and said she knows God is continuing to call her to a higher purpose. He is leading her to start a soup kitchen for the homeless, but until that happens, she will continue collecting, distributing, and delivering to those in need.
Her ministry started in 2012, and her heart was to minister to incarcerated women who “have no hope in their life.”
She ministers to them locally, and also to women in recovery at the Lovelady Center in Birmingham.
“The women, when they get out of jail or prison, can come to the ministry,” she said of her Prattville office. “If the community can not come to us, we go to them.”
Some of those served are homebound seniors, women in jail, and some who she said have lived in 25-foot long campers for the past three decades.
“I’ve seen so many women whose families have washed their hands of them,” Butts said. “And so many women leave jail, and then return. Some have just $40 cash on them. They just need a little bit of hope.
I just knew this was a calling. My spiritual gift is mercy. And when you have that gift, your heart goes out to people.”
Even before she started the ministry with her husband, Butts was visiting the jail on Sundays. This is something she has done for over 12 years. Currently, she’s not allowed inside the jails because of COVID, but she’s able to provide that hope to women who are released.
Every week, she delivers food to about 20 seniors at a local apartment complex, and said the same number of people walk through her ministry doors – which she just opened again this past spring.
“They can come here three times a week and receive a meal,” Butts said. “We also have a clothes closet that we’ve started.”
Butts wants the women to know that even though they have had a tough life, there is hope.
“I tell them even though people in this world have not received anything, there’s receiving through Jesus Christ. That there’s a Father … He’ll reach down and He’ll love you and He’ll give you faith just to walk. A lot of people just need somebody to go in, to love them, care for them and let them know that Christ is our solid rock.”
“The way I see it, is we’ve all messed up,” Butts said. “I’ve started this to reach a community that really has no hope. I’ve seen several women whose lives have been changed. They now have jobs, children, and marriages. But a lot of them are still sitting in jail.
“In the book of Kings, it talks about the ‘widowed woman’ who didn’t have any food to eat. And it kept talking about yeast and bread. And there was something about it … it is a season in my life that I’m supposed to step out and help.”
Get Involved: If you would like to volunteer your time or resources, here are some ways to contact Tammy Butts at House of Hope 12:
Kym Klass is a contributing writer and Communications Director of the Media Ministry at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery.