The Media School

Emily Pike’s work at New Hope for Families helps many struggling Bloomington families

April 1st, 2021 by
Photograph Curtesy of Emily Pike Emily

Emily Pike, 37, is the executive director of New Hope for Families. She has dedicated her life to public service and works each day to help families in and around Bloomington.

After arriving at Mitchell High School in 1998, Emily Pike was asked to join the local chapter of the Red Cross. She taught a few safety classes and chaired a volunteer recognition committee.

One of Pike’s first tasks was to throw a volunteer recognition dinner. The dinner was small. Fried chicken was served. And it was held in a church basement.

“It was a really nice time, and it was something that really gave me a taste for, you know, how rewarding and fulfilling it can be to give back in that way,” she said. “And so, from then I really continued to look for ways to engage and ways to participate in what we call the third sector, which is non-profit work, community work.”

After stints in the local chapter of Red Cross, Peace Corps and undergraduate and graduate school, the 37-year-old Pike is the executive director of New Hope for Families. She works to provide services and housing to impoverished and homeless families in Bloomington.

Through her work at the Red Cross in High School, she was awarded a Lilly Endowment scholarship, which allowed her to study at the University of Notre Dame. During her time there, she met and learned from people who were different from her.

During Pike’s senior year, she lived and worked as a sight supervisor and a house coordinator in a Halfway House, which is a home that helps people after being released from incarceration.

Photograph Courtesy of Emily Pike

Amie Messer (right) director of New Hope’s early childhood program The Nest, and Pike (left) worked hard to be able to open a full-time preschool. The Nest will soon be expanding from being able to fit 18 children to 48.

“It was a great opportunity to meet some people who weren’t my age and who didn’t have the same story as me,” she said.

After attending Notre Dame, Pike served in the Peace Corps from 2009-2011 in Togo, West Africa. Through this she learned to be humble about her work.

“I think that’s one of the traps that people in the helping industry fall into a lot, is to say, ‘I see your problem. Here’s your solution,’ rather than hearing someone tell me what they think is the solution and working with them towards their goals,” she said.

While in Togo, she collaborated with the locals to create solutions for garbage collection, worked at a camp for kids impacted by HIV and AIDS, taught sex ed and entrepreneur classes, worked a vaccination program and more.

After the Peace Corps, Pike attended graduate school at IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, studying non-profit management. While completing her coursework, she was also chosen to work as a service core fellow, when students receive a tuition reduction and in return work for a non-profit in Bloomington, for Monroe County United Ministries (MCUM).

MCUM provides services to impoverished families and young children. She was their delegate on a committee that worked on a project called Homeward Bound, which was a collaborative effort between non-profits in Bloomington that raised money for people impacted by homelessness.

“The thing about New Hope that was so different was that for me, it combined all of the things that I feel passionately about, which are children and families and non-profit work.” – Emily Pike, executive director, New Hope for Families

While serving on this committee Pike met Jim Riley, one of the founders of New Hope. By the end of the semester, she was a New Hope employee and began as a sight supervisor in January 2013. She than became director of children’s programming in August 2015 and the executive director in 2017.

Since Pike was hired, New Hope has expanded from being able to house three families to housing seven. The organization has also opened up a full-day preschool for 18 kids and expanded the after-school and summer programming they offer school age children.

Working at New Hope has given Pike a purpose, and she has found a job that she both enjoys and fulfills her.

“The thing about New Hope that was so different was that for me, it combined all of the things that I feel passionately about, which are children and families and non-profit work, she said.”

The New Hope team has expanded to 18 employees, including Office Manager Karen Neal.

“Emily is the ultimate PR person for New Hope,” she said. “She knows everything about New Hope. She’s been there long enough. She’s done most of the jobs. She’s not afraid to tackle anything.”

Pike is optimistic about the future. In three weeks, New Hope will be announcing an expansion, through which will enable the organization to shelter 12 families and have 48 kids in early childhood care.

She is proud of their progress and plans to continue working for them for a long time.

“Right now, this is a position that I find really energizing and really exciting, so I’m not necessarily thinking past New Hope,” Pike said. “I think there is still a lot of growing that this agency has to do, and I think our community is really invested in it.”