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Hope in Hand: Lessening the burden during time of transition

Jennifer Cerretti, contributed photo


Hope in Hand Moving and Household Services is an upstart Hannibal business that offers assistance in time of need.

Owned and operated by Hannibal native Jennifer Cerretti, the business is intended to help people with downsizing or moving, dealing with material items that have accumulated through the years. She helps people with the task, at their own pace, while offering the human element of listening.

“When you have lived in a house 10, 20, 30 years, you may not have made the decision to get rid of things,” she said.  “But then the time comes that you have to start downsizing, and it can be so overwhelming … It’s not easy to do it alone, to keep it going. You go down rabbit trails, and (downsizing) doesn’t get done.”

Back story

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Jennifer first moved to New York City, and then to Austin, Texas. All the while, her heart followed a career path to help those who needed it. 

“In the past seven or eight years, I’ve gone through a lot of changes, and my goals and purposes have changed,” Jennifer said. During the height of the Covid epidemic, she was working at a disaster relief ministry in Austin. A family member became critically ill, and she found herself traveling to Hannibal. After almost three weeks in Hannibal, she started to feel a shift in priorities, and wondered if a return to Hannibal was in the future. It took a year for her to start getting ideas for what direction to go, but by late 2021, she made the move. 

“I knew it would be a completely different life, and I was leaving a lot of friendships and comforts. But after that first trip back to Hannibal, I felt like God was telling me to pray for a place to live in Hannibal. I thought that was odd, since I didn’t feel like I knew that was the direction I’d be going!” But God moves in mysterious ways, and she felt Him put desires in her heart for a place to live and things to do in Hannibal. “I felt like I was being called to love my neighbors and help others in the community, as well as being able to spend time with my family.” 


Two years ago, she packed up her belongings in Austin, and moved “home.”

For a year she stayed with her parents, and then moved into a house nearby that she could call home. “God put it in my heart to live on the South Side. I have a big desire to love my neighbors and be in the community. I’m living by some people who have lived here their whole lives, and so many have been absolutely wonderful. I feel like community is building.”

In addition, she says she has seen God do a lot of wonderful things in the relationships in her family. 

Slow, steady

Jennifer’s business growth has been slow and steady.

“It’s something in me that I’m compelled to do and enjoy doing!” It hasn’t been the easiest thing to describe to people what she does. “I’ve taken wrong steps and procrastinated. I didn’t start with a road map, but I’m trying to take it step by step and project by project. And every time I get the chance to work with someone, I know part of my purpose is being walked out, and there is a lot of joy in that.”

“I realized how much this type of assistance was needed by my older generation, not just the physical help, but emotional and even spiritual support walking through transitions.  They share stories and can feel less pressure than if they were doing it by themselves or if someone was making them throw everything away without getting to make decisions. I didn’t realize it was all something I could do well and enjoy.”

“I’ve found myself helping all sorts of individuals; it’s not just one type of service or person. Quite a few have lost a loved one and have much grief that they are dealing with as they pack or declutter, while others might need help rearranging some rooms or going through the “dreaded” garage or basement where things have been accumulating for sometimes years.”  “Some people have a long timeframe to work on their desired projects, and others need to get things done immediately. I do everything I can to work within their timeframe and help them make the progress that’s needed. 

“I don’t do this because I’m trying to get rich or anything,” she said. “Before I moved to Hannibal, I realized this was something I loved doing and have a lot of experience with the packing and moving as well as emotional processing and support of others. And it has been my heart’s desire ever since to help as many people as I can. 

“When I’m working with somebody, I’m not there to tell them to get rid of their stuff … It’s their choice and their things! It’s OK not to have every answer up front, but I want people to feel comfortable reaching the best answer for themselves. Even recently, a good example of a common personal struggle was made when a woman she was working with said, ‘I’m afraid when the time comes, I’ll regret getting rid of that (thing).’ 

“I told her to make the best decision she can right now. If you’re not sure, don’t get rid of it.

"I have had a few people say, ‘I miss that (thing).’ I think that’s a natural thing we go through, that’s why we want to hold on to it. You can’t rebuy it, you can buy the same thing, but it’s not the same thing.

“And there are people on one side or the other: those who just say ‘get rid of it,’ and those who hold onto everything. And sometimes those people are married, lol.” 

“One of the biggest burdens on peoples’ hearts is their heirlooms, valuable old antiques. Goodwill is a good recipient, but it feels like it becomes such a common item when it goes into a bin. The people and stories behind it no longer matter.”

Often, when she approaches a new customer, that customer is nervous. “It’s like sharing a messy part of your life with somebody else. It is the same reason people clean their house before the maid comes,” she said. “I’m not there to judge! Rather, I want to help bring peace into the chaotic situation they are looking at.”

The future

Jennifer doesn’t know where her business will lead her, but she plans to walk it out one person, family, or project at a time. A “pie in the sky” dream is to enable the churches to be helpers for moving. “When someone does need to go into a nursing home, and they don’t have money to pay for movers, I want to help and show them God’s love, and do it well, interdenominationally and with trustworthiness.”

Jennifer Cerretti can be contacted by phone at 573-719-1858, via Facebook; or by email:

Mary Lou Montgomery retired as editor of the Hannibal Courier-Post in 2014.


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