Hunter Hands of Hope finds a new home in former caretaker's cottage at Cessnock Tennis Courts

NEW HOME: Hunter Hands of Hope volunteers Leanne Triggs, Jodi Hawkins and Melissa Gontier with Cessnock Tennis Club president Max Carter and club manager Sonia Close.

NEW HOME: Hunter Hands of Hope volunteers Leanne Triggs, Jodi Hawkins and Melissa Gontier with Cessnock Tennis Club president Max Carter and club manager Sonia Close.

Homelessness outreach service Hunter Hands of Hope was praying for a Christmas miracle in December when its search for new premises wasn't looking promising.

The charity's wish has since been granted, and it will start operating from its new home - the former caretaker's cottage at Cessnock Tennis Club - on Tuesday, January 21.

The caretaker's cottage at the Aberdare Road courts had been vacant since November, and the tennis club had put it up for rent.

Club president Max Carter read of Hunter Hands of Hope's plight in the Advertiser's December 18 edition, and was soon in touch with founder Melissa Gontier to arrange an inspection.

Mr Carter said the reason was simple: "We're here for the community. Someone's got to help".

Ms Gontier and her team of volunteers are thrilled with their new location, which will allow the charity to expand its services.

"It's such an exciting time for our community and Hunter Hands of Hope; there will be so much more we can now provide our vulnerable citizens in our township," Ms Gontier said.

"2020 is going to be a fantastic year for growth."

Hunter Hands of Hope started out as a food drive in the Cessnock TAFE park in December 2018, and has grown into an outreach service for homeless and disadvantaged people, moving into a semi-permanent home on Vincent Street in April.

The charity was informed in November that it would have to vacate the premises, with the building owner kindly providing two months' notice - allowing it to continue operating over Christmas.

Ms Gontier said securing a new home has "alleviated a lot of stress", after inspecting several properties that failed to meet their criteria.

"A lot of places we looked at were held up by red tape, or weren't long-term," she said.

The three-bedroom cottage at the tennis courts will allow the charity to provide a private consulting room for doctors' appointments, and bathroom and laundry facilities will also be available.

Clients and volunteers will be able to access the cottage via a separate gate on the eastern side of the property, with parking on Aberdare Road. Mesh will be added to the tennis courts' boundary fences for privacy.

From January 21, dinner will be served Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 5.30pm to 7pm, and free hot food will be available to take away on Fridays from 5pm to 6pm.

Anyone wishing to drop off donations of food can do so from 4.30pm to 5pm on these days.

Hunter Hands of Hope receives no government funding, relying on fundraising, community support and grants to cover its costs (including rent and all other outgoings).

If you can help, call 0400 003 014 or send a message via hunterhandsofhope.com.au or their Facebook page.

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