Community of Hope is located at 1413 Girard St., NW and “works to improve the health and quality of life of low-income, homeless, and underserved families and individuals in DC.” For those who are looking for an opportunity to volunteer, Community of Hope provides a truly needed service for the city. I was lucky enough to be given a tour of the facilities, by Cassandra Hetherington, 35, Volunteer Manager for Community of Hope (pictured above). Cassandra originally started out as a volunteer herself in 2001. She explained to me that “the thought of homeless children was too painful to bear” after seeing an ad in the City Paper.
The kids I saw are facing unbelievable obstacles but every single one of them was smiling and were having a great time with their tutors/mentors. This particular building has 20 apartments for emergency shelter and in general families stay for an average of 6-12 months. But the reason I am profiling this organization is because they have a real need for volunteers. There are three types of volunteers, you can volunteer in a computer lab overseeing and aiding the children who relish the time in front of the computers. Other volunteers serve as tutors to help the children with their studies. This is a crucial role as the students are often far behind in the skills of their age group. Finally, you can chose to become a mentor. Mentors, take children to movies, parks, museums, baseball games or whatever you are both interested in. Often these mentors are the only friends that some of the children have. Everyone probably remembers how tough kids can be, well, as homeless children, some of them are bullied mercilessly at school.
Cassandra recalled a story of one mentor who was a bit “nerdy” and she thought there was no way he would get along with these “tough” kids. Alas, there was one child who was 14 and very shy. So Cassandra paired the two up and it was great match. The 14 year old’s mother explained that this was the first friend he had ever had. They are still close today. Currently community of hope has 12 mentors and “they need a lot more.” Your commitment to volunteer/tutor/mentor is only 1-2 hours per week and the children’s ages range from 6- 16 years old. You will have to submit to a background check and provide letters of reference. Please contact Karyn Cassella-Martin at [email protected] if you are interested in any of the volunteer positions.
Additionally the organization is short on gift cards that they distribute for the holidays. Please visit their web site here to make a contribution. Anyone who makes a contribution of $20 or more will receive a free PoP t-shirt at the upcoming happy hour at Red Derby. (Get a receipt!). After the jump see some photos of volunteers who are walking the walk.
A couple of volunteers in the Computer Lab.
Children enjoying the computer lab.