In Forsyth County, North Carolina, H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Eat) of Winston-Salem knows there are people in the community who care about kids. H.O.P.E.’s mission is to use community-wide volunteer support to bring nutritious weekend meals to children who are at risk for hunger.
In addition to delicious, nutritious meals, H.O.P.E. provides kids with experiences and exposure to things that will enrich their lives and prepare them for a bright future.
And there are few things more enriching or exciting than a book.
“When our truck or van arrives, the music brings children running, and the fun begins!” says Marty Tennille, co-founder of H.O.P.E.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, First Book has worked with H.O.P.E to provide brand-new, high-quality books for some of the 1,200 kids they feed every weekend.
“The children we serve have so few books that anytime we are able to bring books to hand out, they hug them with both hands and smile brilliant smiles as though they have just been given the best treasure ever,” says Marty.
Part of that treasure is that kids get to interact with volunteers who help connect the stories they’re reading to real-world themes. When Wake Forest University medical students volunteer each week with H.O.P.E., they read books about doctors and checkups and talk with kids to lessen anxiety and acquaint them with medical careers. College athletes bring books encouraging kids to chase their dreams and talk with them about college and careers – conversations many children in the low-income areas around Winston-Salem might not otherwise have.
The way H.O.P.E has expanded their simple mission of feeding the hungry to include education and improvement of social and emotional health shows how much impact just having resources available can make.
H.O.P.E and its leaders have big plans for the nonprofit’s future. Soon, not only will they have an on-site facility serving meals to a community of 1,300 families, but that facility will also feature a classroom overflowing with books that will enrich kids’ lives, many of them from First Book.
“Children who discover the joy of reading not only do better in school but also have a life full of adventure ahead,” says Marty. “H.O.P.E. is grateful to First Book for helping us foster the love of reading in so many children in need.”
When you serve children in need, the opportunity to make an impact is huge. By working with groups like H.O.P.E that address serious needs outside of access to a quality education, First Book can not only maximize our mission, but also the mission of those with whom we work.