Job success is fueled by education in the community's youth and, for the second year in a row, the non-profit program called H.O.P.E. (Help Our Potential Evolve) has enhanced the future of a local high school graduate by awarding them a college scholarship.
“Our plan is for (the scholarship winners) to go to Northeast [State Community College] first because that first two years is absolutely free and then apply for all scholarships, and they can take that money and move on to higher ed,” said H.O.P.E. founder and president Stella Robinette.
H.O.P.E. began in 2008 as a means of paying homage to Black History in the community and to improve the lives of future generations of high school aged youth by teaching them vital skills needed to achieve their dreams. In recent years, the organization raised the ante further by orchestrating a scholarship program designed to grant any student involved in H.O.P.E. the opportunity to earn the Joyce Dockery Memorial Scholarship.
“Joyce Dockery was an employee of Tri-Summit Bank and helped me get this [program] started,” Robinette said.
H.O.P.E. holds its scholars to the same requirements the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce has for the Tenn./Va. Scholars program including: maintain at least a C average and perform 80 hours of community service. However, Robinette said, “the majority of our youth have more [hours] than that.”
The community service and goal -oriented organization also promotes a positive work ethic for their youth by teaching them hands-on career skills through job shadowing and and life lessons classes like proper etiquette, how to manage and invest money, how to fill out job a application and resume, and how to dress for success.
The H.O.P.E. program helps teen-aged participants find employment and requires they “put at least 10 percent of their money into their own savings account, saving for their own future,” Robinette explained. They must also donate 10 percent of their earnings to a church or non-profit organization of their choosing and set another 10 percent aside for emergencies.
Teiaira Blye is the 2013 recipient of the H.O.P.E. scholarship, having completed all the requirements before her recent graduation from Dobyns-Bennett High School. At the age of 18, Blye is the second to receive the award in a two-year span, and according to Robinette has been dedicated in her volunteerism to the point of going “beyond” the requirements asked of her; Blye assisted in many local community service outreach programs and received “high marks” from them all.
“I don't think there was anything I ever asked her to do that she didn't follow through on,” Robinette said. “I'm very proud of Teiaira. She's come a long way.”
Blye plans to attend Northeast State Community College for her first two years of college in pursuit of a career in child development.
H.O.P.E. relies solely on volunteers and sponsors like Tri-Summit Bank and Regions Bank, therefore donations of time and money are always needed.
The organization hopes the public can assist them in their goal to “pay for one kid [for] four years of college.”
To donate, volunteer or for more information, contact Stella Robinette at 423-276-6541 or firstname.lastname@example.org.