Hopefest 2020

  • Location
    Bellevue, Washington
  • Status

The Problem

My group’s Roots & Shoots campaign is called Hopefest, and our goal is to address the homelessness and poverty crisis that continues to worsen in Seattle. Hopefest is an annual event that serves in-need families across the greater Seattle area. In March 2020 at the Bellevue Highland Community Center, Hopefest will provide 1,000 in-need individuals with free groceries, clothes, hygiene items, and books, free services such as haircuts, massages, dental care, vaccinations, health screenings, and much more. Our guests’ connections made with local agencies and community organizations at the event will last far beyond the single-day event. Each year, the people we serve walk away from this powerful day of giving with a reaffirmed belief that they are cared for by a compassionate community. Hopefest is planned and executed by local high school/college students with the help of 300 youth volunteers, and through partnerships with local businesses and organizations, we change lives every year. Simply said: every one of our guests will discover a newfound sense of hope. Hopefest is operated by a 501c3 nonprofit organization, called The Hope Festival, which is also entirely run and operated by local high school and college students.

Our Plan

The success of Hopefest 2020 will be measured in two main ways: (1) reaching our goal of serving 1,000 individuals, and (2) hearing stories of changed and improved lives from those we serve. While reaching our goal of serving 1,000 people at our festival is important to us and would demonstrate our ability to have a widespread impact, we chose to measure the impact of our service more so through quality rather than quantity. The success and effectiveness of Hopefest and Hope in Motion projects will not solely be based off the number of those served, but more so from the stories of changed and improved lives that we hear from the recipients of our service. While providing those we serve with tangible supplies to meet their needs is important, ensuring that those we serve walk away with a newfound sense of hope is our main goal. We will know if we are successful in providing those we serve with this sense of hope through the conversations that we (our volunteers) have with our guests. One of my favorite stories of hope from Hopefest was from a conversation I had with a woman at Hopefest 2019. She told me that due to being unable to afford a haircut, she counted on our annual event to provide her with a free one each year. She told us that Hopefest was one of the most uplifting and powerful days of her life. It is stories like these that will demonstrate the success of our campaign. Following Hopefest, we first celebrate the work of our volunteers by creating an exciting event recap video. We then invite all our volunteers to complete a feedback and reflection survey, which allows our volunteers to reflect on the experience, what they learned, how they grew, and how they can continue to serve their community with our organization. If you would like to learn a little more about Hopefest, you can check out our 2019 event recap video—where we served 929 individuals—here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-y9_uo5H2A8

Themes Addressed

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The Benefit

Here is how the project went:

On August 14th, 400 volunteers came together to serve 650 individuals experiencing poverty and homelessness in the greater Seattle area at a Covid-safe, summer edition of Hope Festival 2021. Guests received free groceries, hygiene supplies, clothing, toys for the kids, books, and more. Local service providers offered personal services including HIV testing, glaucoma screenings & free eyeglass, dental screenings, hearing screenings, Covid vaccinations, pet vaccinations, and more. Guests connected with local agencies providing long-term care at the Connection Center, local employers came to hire on the spot, and Seattle Humane Society brought six kittens to cuddle with guests in the kitten cuddle booth. Several lucky raffle winners even walked away with a brand-new laptop, bicycle, or gift basket. Guests and volunteers alike left with a newfound sense of hope

Through this project I/we learned:

We couldn’t be prouder to once again show how youth leaders are capable of being the change we wish to see in the world. We were able to do what even the City of Seattle couldn’t—run a safe, in-person, resource exchange event. During this time of extreme need amidst the pandemic, we are extremely proud to have been able to safely provide valuable supplies and services to those in need across the greater Seattle area. As a group of students running our nonprofit and this annual event, we are no stranger to obstacles coming our way. This year was different, however—we were required to take on the roles of public health officials as we worked to plan and execute an event that was safe for all 1,050 volunteers and guests alike. We are incredibly proud that we were able to do just. It is just another embodiment of the truth that age is just a number, and youth are truly capable of being the change we wish to see in the world. Once again, we were reaffirmed that age is just a number, and that if you are truly determined to make something happen, all you have to do is get started and put in the work to make it happen.

What I/we might change:

While many of the most challenging aspects of this project were due to situations out of our control, if we were do to this project again in a similar COVID situation, I think we might give ourselves more time to build out the countless, miniscule--yet critical--logistics for this project. Especially in a COVID world, consideration of every single detail is absolutely imperative. Taking even more time to make sure every detail is locked down would never hurt.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

. In speaking with guests at the event, our mission of running a service event that left people with a sense of hope was achieved. One woman, who’s little girl had just won the brand-new bicycle she had her eyes on during the raffle, said that she now finally had a way to transport herself to school this next year. Another family thanked us for the opportunity to receive Covid vaccinations as well as a wide range of supplies and services for every member of their family. It is these individual stories of hope that remind us how important our work is, and moreover, how important the little things are.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

The hardest part is getting started. Surround yourself with mentors, supporters, and people who inspire you--your support system is one of your greatest assets. Never be afraid to ask for help. Delegation is key. Grit is everything. Lean into the WORK.

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