On January 29th our KY-MSC Family lost a dear member. Ms. Dottie Gebhart, who served with Hope Academy for Kids, went home to be with the Lord. Dottie and her husband Chuck served together as Food/Nutrition Department leads and Chuck, also a KY-MSC Missionary, directs the van ministry.
Nelle Thomas, Executive Director of HAFK, shared. “Our HAFK family has suffered a great loss in the passing of a ‘hall of fame’ volunteer and KY-MSC missionary who fed thousands of children in Hardin County for over 15 years. Ms. Dottie’s passion to nurture children with the love of God has eternally impacted all kids, big and small, who had the privilege of knowing her. Thank you for leaving your handprints on our HEARTS, Ms. Dottie Owens Gebhart! We will press on and carry out our mission of HOPE and make you proud.”
Hope Academy for Kids began in 2007 as an outreach of a local church, when a handful of church members volunteered to transport children to the church facility for a weekly Bible study. Immediately after the program began, volunteers realized that the children were hungry and started a chapter of Kid’s Café, to provide a meal, Bible study, and activities for 150 children living in poverty. With such a large growth, and a desire to do more for the kids, Kids’ Café dissolved, and Mission Hope for Kids was officially established in May 2012. The name has since changed to Hope Academy for Kids and continues to disciple and mentor Elizabethtown-area students in grades K-12, addressing educational, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs, serving upwards of 185 students. Ms. Dottie has been with the ministry since the beginning.
Volunteers that worked with Dottie describe her as “a special lady, loved by all, witty, having a heart of gold, a servant’s heart, one of a kind, and a person that impacted all of us.”
A parent of one of the students wrote the following sentiment. “My greatest memory of Ms. Dottie was when she would come to our house for outreaches. She never met a stranger and didn’t care how or what we looked like. We got hugs and food, and she would talk to us how much Jesus loves us and that she and Mr. Chuck love us too! She would ask us if we needed anything and she and Mr. Chuck would go buy it, or if she thought my family needed anything from food, school supplies, gas or just to cook us dinner and she and Mr. Chuck would eat with us, and sometimes Ms. Dottie would cook a meal and knock and leave it at the door and would surprise us! We KNEW WHO IT WAS FROM. We will forever miss Ms. Dottie. Now we have to love extra on Mr. Chuck.”
Two HAFK students (sisters) remember Ms. Dottie and Mr. Chuck always being their biggest fans. “Ms. Dottie would ask for our softball schedule each year. She would tell us stories about her playing softball, give us tips on how to catch, throw, and hit the ball hard, and coach us from the sidelines. She encouraged our whole team to play harder and play our best. My sister and I will continue to play in memory of Ms. Dottie.”
Dottie was indeed a special lady that impacted the lives of many. Thank you, Ms. Dottie, for giving to the Lord. What a beautiful legacy you have left.