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H.O.P.E. provides local youths with skills to achieve their dreams

Holly Viers • Mar 22, 2020 at 4:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Since it began over a decade ago, H.O.P.E. has helped countless young people identify and follow their dreams.

A nonprofit organization serving children ages 11-19, H.O.P.E. teaches the life skills needed to help youth achieve success in their education and careers. Founder Stella Robinette said the program has evolved since its early days and continues to grow each year.

When and why did you start H.O.P.E.?

“I started 12 years ago in February … at the Civic Auditorium,” Robinette said. “My true thing I wanted to do was to teach some black history, because it wasn’t taught that much in this area, or I think in any school, and I wanted children of color to see other professionals so they could dream and become successful adults, just by getting an education or trade school; it doesn’t have to necessarily be college. And then from there, it just kind of snowballed into classes, to where I had people that were joining me. We’re very diverse, so I think each kid can learn from each other, and I love that, regardless of income, race or religion.”

What does H.O.P.E. do today?

H.O.P.E. offers a variety of programs and opportunities for its members, including:

• CPR certification

• Classes on punctuality, job interviewing and etiquette

• Hope for Health, a program that teaches members how to shop for, eat and cook healthy foods

• Spreading Hope, a program in which members collect luggage for children in foster care

• Dream Book, a program through Stanford University in which members answer a questionnaire that matches them with possible careers

• Job shadowing and financial planning based on members’ career matches from the Dream Book

• A back-to-school giveaway, in which members help collect and pack backpacks full of school supplies for local students in need

• The three 10s, in which members learn to put 10% of the money they earn in a savings account, donate 10% to a church or nonprofit organization, and save the other 10% as a rainy day fund

• The Joyce Dockery scholarship, a $500 scholarship from Tri-Summit Bank for qualifying high school seniors.

H.O.P.E. also holds a yearly black history awards program, in which it gives awards to people who have made an impact in the community, helped H.O.P.E. or both. A list of winners from this year’s program is available on the group’s Facebook page, “HOPE — Help Our Potential Evolve.”

What’s next?

“Each year, we start something new; we never want to stop growing,” Robinette said. “Some things we’re going to always keep — Dream Book, because we think that’s one way of breaking cycles. But we always start something new each year to keep us growing, to keep us healthy, keep us on our toes. We want to make sure that our kids just don’t get bored with it, and we listen to ideas that they have, too.”

How can someone join?

Prospective members can contact Robinette by email at [email protected] or by phone at (423) 276-6541. More information is available at hopetricities.com.

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