The new date for the Gospel Fest is Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Center, 1200 E. Center St., in Kingsport. The Pancake Breakfast will be from 8 to 10 a.m., March 23, at Applebee's, 1661 E. Stone Dr. If you have a ticket already for the pancake breakfast, it will be honored in March.
Their smiles are high wattage, their enthusiasm contagious. These are the young people of the non-profit, H.O.P.E. (Help Our Potential Evolve).
Founded in 2008 by Stella Robinette to serve as an educational celebration of the American History of African Cultural Origins (Black History), the group has grown over the years. It now strives to identify and train young leaders, ages 14 to 18, and helps them develop skills that will be helpful in their future careers while also promoting community service.
Program participants are offered a wide variety of activities in which to participate. Practical information is covered in their monthly meetings and includes how to set up and manage a checking account, how to manage finances in college, choosing the right career and how to find a job. The young leaders are also taught networking skills and attend Chamber events in the community to put into practice what they are learning.
And they are learning a lot!
Past and current projects include ushering at the recent musical performances of Andy and the Beats, helping host Kingsport Olympic Game Day in October 2012 (with sponsor Holston Medical Group), tutoring students at the Boys and Girls Club, distributing backpacks and school supplies during their Back to School event with Carew Cuts, and assisting with the international No Limit Gospel Fest at MeadowView Convention Center in July of 2012.
Several youth are currently participating in the Greater Kingsport "Lose Big Competition" - which focuses on healthy eating and lifestyles - while others are helping plan Gospel Fest to be held at 7 p.m., Jan. 25, in the Renaissance Center Theater. There are also two pancake breakfast fundraisers scheduled at Applebee's in Kingsport, from 8 to 10 a.m., Jan. 26 and March 23.
The proceeds from these and other fundraisers pay program expenses and help cover the cost of educational trips, such as one to Washington D.C. Participation in these classes and activities not only helps the students develop positive life, organizational and leadership skills, but can also pay off through scholarships to college.
Returning to the original focus of H.O.P.E., the Main Art Center and the DKA Foundation have announced a partnership with H.O.P.E. - Help Our Potential Evolve/Knowledge is Power.
On Feb. 7, from 5:30 until 8 p.m., the Fourth Annual Black History Month - "Unity a Community Affair" - will kick off with a celebration at the Main Art Center located in the historic Gem Theater at 140 West Main Street in downtown Kingsport. Tickets are $15 per person and reservations can be made by calling 423-246-6550 or 423-392-1150. The event will showcase some of Tennessee’s most talented artists and is part of an ongoing effort to promote and develop the life skills and future careers of the young leaders. The exhibit will run Feb. 1-28.
Being educated in so many facets of life will ultimately result in adults who are better-educated, socially-conscious and self-aware; adults who will make a positive difference in their communities and in the lives of others.
"It’s about giving back," says Robinette. As with every worthwhile venture, it takes many groups and individuals working together.
"Local businesses can help provide job shadowing opportunities for the youth, and volunteers and corporate sponsors are always needed," says Robinette.
If you or your business or civic group would like to help mentor these exceptional young people and help prepare them for a successful and dynamic future, email Robinette at email@example.com.