Stevenson Center alumna Pat Turner ’04, M.S. ’06, has worked tirelessly to assist and inspire those in need in McLean County. Turner was an Applied Community and Economic Development (ACED) Fellow in political science. On Alumni Day, she will return to campus to share her experiences.
Turner came to the Stevenson Center after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Illinois State. Reflecting on her time as a graduate student, Turner said: “It was an amazing experience! I felt completely supported and equipped by my professors, fellow colleagues, office and support staff.”
The interdisciplinary nature of the ACED Fellows program was also an asset. Turner added that the hands-on, real-world experiences she gained during her first-year graduate assistantship and second-year AmeriCorps placement gave her the knowledge and confidence to effectively tackle many of the challenges she later encountered.
Turner’s second-year professional practice was unusual: “I was particularly blessed to have the opportunity to (serve) at my current organization, the Center for Hope Outreach Programs. My goal was to learn how to better run the organization that I had founded nearly 15 years prior to learning about the Stevenson Center. I even completed my graduate capstone on the topic of program evaluation and strategic planning for the Center for Hope’s future growth and sustainability,” said Turner.
Turner is the director of Center for Hope Outreach Programs where she oversees six programs: Hope and Temba Food Pantries, the Kingdom Closet and Boutique, 2nd Helping Education and Workshop Series, Hope Jail Ministry, Seeds of Hope Senior Care Ministry, and the Annual Joy of Giving Holiday Event. Her main responsibility it to carry out the organization’s strategic plan while also managing fundraising, marketing, and community outreach.
Under her leadership, the organization has expanded considerably since its early days and now serves as many as 10,000 McLean County residents annually. While the work is surely demanding, Turner notes, “It has been my joy to continue working with the Center for Hope Outreach Programs.”
Turner’s commitment to Center for Hope Outreach Programs is rooted in her own experiences and challenges. “Nearly 30 years ago, I found myself a struggling single mom in need of food and other resources. A deacon and his wife who were members of the church I attended heard about my need and were moved with compassion. It was upon receiving the two bags of groceries that they brought to my home that I remembered a vision God had given me earlier that year. In the vision, I saw myself operating a food program that brought relief to others in a manner that offered dignity and opportunities for growth and forward movement.”
It was that same night she received the groceries that she decided to open the Center for Hope Food Pantry. She explained to her family that they would eat only from the first bag of groceries and share from the contents of the second bag.
In 2000 the same deacon who assisted her family became Bishop Larry Taylor, the senior pastor and founder of the Center for Hope International Ministries, with Elder Desetra Taylor. “Our organizations merged and together, we continue to impact lives for the better both locally and globally.”
ACED Fellows alum Pat Turner
Turner has received many honors, including the Town of Normal’s Human Relations Award, the Illinois Municipal Human Relations Humanitarian Award, a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for Community Service, and the Influential Woman Award. Her most recent nomination is for the fall 2018 BCAI Epic Resilience Award.
Turner has a burning passion for supporting the people of our community as well as those abroad. She has worked in South Africa, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Spain in promoting the well-being of women and children, strong and integrated communities, and leadership development tools and strategies. She will continue to dedicate herself to helping improve life for those who are in any way marginalized, oppressed, and disenfranchised. Her goal remains to serve as an advocate and motivator while working closely with those in the community who share this purpose.
Contact the Stevenson Center at (309)-438-7090 or StevensonCenter@IllinoisState.edu for more information.
Megan Birk is the Stevenson Center’s public relations intern.