Community Connection — The Refuge

By Erin Smith

Volunteer Mary Gardner
Volunteer Mary Gardner lives by Bible verse 1 Peter 4:10: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

The word “refuge” means “to shelter or protect from danger or distress,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Hence one of the main goals of the not-for-profit organization The Refuge, created by CEO Thom Hord, does that and much more for our community. Back in 2007, Pastor Hord’s passion was to pull our community together as a whole to serve those in need more efficiently. Organizing a nondenominational, faith-based outreach center was just the answer.

Governed by a board of nine and supported by organizations, businesses and individuals, more than 21,000 individuals were served in 2013 alone. According to the organization’s mission statement: “The Refuge seeks to provide a stable source of care for men, women and children looking to halt the course of poverty. The Refuge pursues opportunities to help the growth and development for healthier children, stronger families and a positive community through relationships that reach out for the physical, emotional, academic and spiritual needs of area residents.”

Research has proved that education is the best intervention to stop the cycle of poverty. The Refuge has been instrumental in providing life skills classes and a computer lab to be proactive in breaking the cycle as well as providing the necessities of everyday life, such as food and clothing, to assist struggling families. Volunteers are always needed to help with food and furniture pickups, sorting, and stocking of the pantry.

Volunteer Mary Gardner started out sorting food for the pantry and then began building relationships with clients so they felt respected and cared about. She shared, “Our clients are truly kind people, just down on their luck. I am so blessed to serve them.” If you are reading this article and your heart is touched and you have a passion for helping struggling families get back on their feet, The Refuge needs your help! Consider getting involved and be a part of the solution to break the cycle of poverty. Your efforts will bring joy to others and make our community a better place to live and work.

The Refuge is located at 65 Airport Pkwy., #110, Greenwood, Ind. For more information, call 317-889-7338 or visit

WOW facts:
1. Did you know that there are people living under the bridges at I-65 and Main Street and US 31 and Fry Road? The homeless issue in our county is real.
2. During the 2010-2011 school year, just fewer than 100 children in one Johnson County school district were homeless.
3. In 2013, The Refuge’s food ministry gave out more than $500,000 in food.


Thom Hord, CEO

Kerry Jones, community impact coordinator

Marsi Edwards, director of communications

Bill and Julie Spate, vice chair/volunteer coordinator

Ron and Sally Runyon, treasurers

Mark Slauter

Mark Bowell

Francisco Amador

Jenny Ford, pantry team leader

Biggest needs:

1. Prayer: The Refuge believes that purposeful prayer for his or her mission is something everyone can participate in.

2. A freestanding building called “The Hope Center” would make it possible for a daily soup kitchen program to be established and give an opportunity for multiple nonprofits to come together and share expenses, becoming a one-stop shop for their clients.

3. Food, clothing and life skills teachers.

Erin Smith

Erin Smith is President of Spotlight Strategies, a well-known print, apparel, and promotional products firm. Considered an elite woman in business, Erin has won prestigious awards and been given high honors for excellence in business and community leadership. She has established herself as a difference-maker in the areas of women’s leadership and community philanthropy throughout the Midwest.

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