Hands 4 Hope
Mar 30, 2010 05:00PM
● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
One area mother decided to teach her boys a lesson that would stick.
Hands4Hope started in February 2008, and since then has modeled a lesson that over 200 children have learned.
Founder and executive director, Jennifer Bassett, started the organization because she wanted her sons to be compassionate, responsible and appreciative individuals. She talked to friends and business owners in El Dorado Hills about her vision while her two sons invited friends from around their neighborhood to join. Then one thing led to another. “Youth have a wonderful propensity to inspire other youth, as well as adults,” says Bassett.
The organization’s mission is to grow the next generation of socially responsible citizens by engaging youth in community outreach. It strives to serve the homeless population as well as people considered to be low-income in El Dorado and Sacramento Counties. Hands4Hope currently has just over 200 youth volunteers, 22 adult leaders and 45 adult volunteers who help as needed throughout the year. Since January 2009, WIND youth members in Sacramento have partnered with the youth of Hands4Hope to complete outreach projects. “There is an amazing relationship that has developed between the youth from these two very different groups (the youth from WIND are homeless),” Bassett says. “The walls are broken down and they work together as if they’ve known each other for years.”
Hands4Hope has three teams based on grade levels. Team Hope is their elementary group, Team Dream, the middle school group, and Team Inspire is the high school group. Each team meets once a month to review past events, discuss upcoming events and make decisions on possible outreach.
Team Hope and Dream have an ongoing fundraiser called “Change4Hope.” Members collect change and bring it to the monthly meeting. Team Hope plans to purchase “emergency” snacks for the local schools, and Team Dream is raising money to support local children and families in need. “I like volunteering because I know I’m making a difference in someone’s life,” Emily Sathis, Captain of Team Dream and eighth grade student at Rolling Hills in El Dorado Hills, says.
Team Inspire holds fundraisers for their outreach as well as assists in seeking sponsorships and donations. They recently held a fundraiser to purchase phone cards for soldiers from the area deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Volunteering makes me appreciate the life, family and friends that I have,” Andie Horning, Team Inspire President, and junior at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, shares.
The organization continually distributes hundreds of meals, toiletries, warm clothes and blankets to the homeless. It collects items during the two drives it hosts with the help of local schools. The “Warm & Fuzzy Drive” takes place in October and the “Toiletries Drive” in May. Another successful program is its “Project Birthday!” The group throws monthly birthday parties at a local affordable housing complex for the children who are celebrating birthdays that month.
In addition to the team meetings, Hands4Hope has an average of five outreach opportunities that youth and families can participate in monthly. Bassett hopes this group will inspire kids involved to continue making a positive difference throughout their lives.
For more information on Hands4Hope, visit hands4hopeyouth.org.