NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – 2019 was a banner year for non-profit organization Hope Station and its founder Quintina Waller. After four years of operation, Hope Station helped 94 single mothers who had an emergent financial need in 2019.
“We help single working mothers who are overqualified for government assistance,” says Waller.
Waller’s organizations steps in to help pay unplanned expenses, like a flat tire, loss of a job and missed time at work resulting in a lower paycheck.
“When life happens, Hope Station tries to be there to at least help you through that particular time,” says Waller.
How it began
The birth of Hope Station was also a re-birth for Waller, its founder and Executive Director.
Quintina is a single mother to three children. After the birth of her youngest – now 6-year old son Bryson – Waller dealt with a financial crisis.
While on maternity leave from her job as an insurance underwriter, the company she worked for did not put in her time card, resulting in an unexpected missed paycheck. The loss of wages meant she was out of food and money.
"I didn't have any milk for Bryson and I didn’t qualify for food stamps because I made too much money,” recalls Waller. “So I said, ‘okay what am I going to do now?’”
Waller notes she was dealing with post-partum depression for the first time in any of the three births.
“I was feeling dark,” says Waller. "I just wanted to go lay down, I was feeling tired, mentally tired, physically tired, I was just worn out and I said 'I just want to go lay down for a while.'”
Waller’s then- 20-year old daughter was home at the time and agreed to watch 6-week old Bryson so Quintina could nap.
“But my true intent was to go commit suicide – to take a whole bottle of pain pills," says Waller. "But immediately, God spoke to my spirit and said 'you start something, you do for others what no one will do for you.’"
In that moment, Hope Station was born. Quintina’s daughter came up with the organization’s name.
“[My daughter said] when you talk to a mother in need, she’s transitioning – like a train station going from one place to another and you’re giving her hope,” recalls Quintina. “You’re in this crisis but we’re going to transition you with hope; Hope Station.”
Waller founded Hope Station in 2014 as a part-time organization. By the end of 2015, she had received the 501(c)(3) designation from the federal government and established its Executive Board. Hope Station helped its first single mother in 2016.
“It was such an amazing feeling to write that first check to actually say ‘we helped somebody,’” says Waller.
In 2016, Hope Station helped twelve single mothers. In 2017, that number grew to seventeen. In 2018, Hope Station expanded into Davidson County and began operating an office from Corinthian Baptist Church at 819 33rd Ave N, and in turn helped 78 women. The organization helped 94 women in 2019.
“We haven’t had to turn anybody away because we didn’t have the funds,” says Waller.
How Hope Station works
Hope Station fills a gap in Davidson County. Women applying for help must meet three qualifications: (1) have at least one child in the home under the age of 18, (2) earn an annual income of at least $33,000 and (3) show proof of an emergent financial need preventing them from paying a bill.
The income requirement coincides with the federal poverty guidelines that prevent a family from receiving benefits if their income is above a certain amount. Right now, the law sets a gross income cap of 130% of the poverty line for SNAP recipients — about $33,000 for a family of four.
Personal finance website GoBankingRates.com releases an annual study showing what a household must earn to “live comfortably” in major U.S. cities. In Nashville, the total was $80,548. The same study shows the city’s median income to be $49,891.
Both numbers are much higher than the $33,000 cap for government assistance, leaving a gap for single mothers trying to make ends meet.
Hope Station will help a single mother only once in a 12-month period to the maximum amount of $350. Quintina’s goal for the organization is to increase that amount to $500 per woman and eventually be able to help twice in 12 months.
“I got behind [on my bills] because I got robbed,” says Marquita Ray, a single mom who works as a Compliance Officer in Student Services for Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Ray says her wallet and cash were taken in November of 2019 and she spent the final two months of the year attempting to catch up on her bills.
“This was the first place I found that would actually assist single mothers that were over the income for government assistance,” says Ray.
After meeting Hope Station’s requirements, the organization paid Ray’s outstanding NES Utility bill in-full in the sum of $233.
Making ends meet
Quintina serves as the Executive Director and founder of the organization but doesn’t take a salary. She answers the phone when prospective clients call and reviews applications for women who reach out. If a single mom meets all the requirements, Waller can turn pay a woman’s bills within 24-48 hours.
“I’m getting up every day driving from La Vergne to Nashville for free but the payoff is to help others,” says Quintina.
The organization is 90-percent privately funded and receives limited grants for its work. Waller makes a commission on donations exceeding $2,000. Since the organization started, she’s received $6,000 in commission from Hope Station. She says it’s a miracle her own bills are always paid.
“I’m so happy that God chose me to do this,” says Waller. “I know exactly what these women are going through.”
If you would like to help Hope Station, contact Quintina at the email address here: firstname.lastname@example.org .