For youth in the Tri-Cities area who are striving to get the most of life, there is H.O.P.E.
H.O.P.E, Help Our Potential Evolve, is a non-profit community organization whose purpose is to educate the youth and cause an evolution of enrichment. The group was founded in 2008 by Stella Robinette.
Youth in the program range from 14 to 18 years old and are expected to maintain at least a C average in school. The program helps them to learn things that may not otherwise know.
“Everything that we do is trying to give them life skills for the future,” Robinette said.
Robinette had been helping the youth regularly, but at the suggestion of Joyce Dockery, she decided to take it a step further.
“She thought what we were doing should be taught year-round,” Robinette said, “because there are kids that don’t get the feel for what the real world is like after high school. When they go off to college, we want them to make good choices, so we try to help them do that now.”
A few of the life skills that they learn are banking, speaking and giving back to the community. They are even given the chance to job shadow someone that might be in a field that they would like to pursue.
One of the current youth has dreams to become a CEO one day, so he is job shadowing CEO Blaine Owens of Region’s Bank.
“This gives them the chance to see if they really might want to pursue that career,” Robinette said.
HOPE also helps them to find a job. With the money that they earn, the group helps them to divvy up their check.
“They must give 10 percent into a savings account towards their education, 10 percent towards a church or a non-profit organization, and place 10 percent in an emergency fund, just in case something comes up,” Robinette said.
Perhaps, most importantly, the group allows the children to volunteer in the community.
“That is important because we want them to grow up learning to give back to their community, because leadership is a big part of that,” Robinette said.
With the holiday season upon us, there have been numerous opportunities for H.O.P.E. to distribute their volunteer hours around the entire Tri-Cities region. During the Thanksgiving holiday, the group went to Johnson City to help provide warm meals to families that were in need at the Carver Recreation Center.
In Kingsport, the group volunteered for the Senior Center’s Christmas party at the Allandale Mansion. The group also helps the youth send cards to neighbors or family members that have fallen ill or lost loved ones.
Earlier in the fall, the group partnered up with Food City to help during a Halloween Carnival where there were different prizes and giveaways
“It is really good for Food City to back a program that helps the young generation,” Food City store manager Mark Hubbard said. “That is really what we are about is donating and partnering within the community that we serve.”
Hubbard joined in supporting the group when he moved to the store about three years ago. Before him, it was the previous store manager Ed Moore who was involved with the works of H.O.P.E.
“Without Ed and Joyce, there probably wouldn’t be a H.O.P.E.,” Robinette said.
For more information about the HOPE organization, go to HopeTricities.com or find them on Facebook at H.O.P.E. - Help Our Potential Evolve.