Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s fourth installment of their new profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of HOPE’S IN.
Interview with Courtney Q. McGovern – Executive Director | HOPE’S IN
What do you feel is the most important benefit your organization provides to the community?
I feel that HOPE’S IN truly offers an avenue for the Barrington community to strengthen their perspective on a global narrative of empowerment. Also, we give students the opportunity to lead boldly and gain really important skills to become dynamic humanitarian leaders. In other words, we don’t just ask them to share a post on social media or read a few articles here and there. Instead, we give them mentorship, direct service opportunities and invite them to truly help shape the work our organization does.
I believe that throughout the past nine years, we have learned a lot about how to engage with social impact and bring together a diverse volunteer community. This wisdom is something we hope to continually share, and learn from, with the Barrington community.
Are there any new programs or new initiatives you will be implementing for 2021?
Yes! This year we will be implementing the second pilot session of our program called the Hope’s in Academy Young Adults. Over the past three years, we have run a program called the Hope’s in Academy at Barrington High School for Freshmen to meet and learn about social impact. They also implement their own service project at the end of the year. The program has been so impactful that we expanded it to two new focus groups. Last summer we ran the Hope’s In Academy Jr. for middle school students and in the winter ran our first ever Hope’s In Academy Young Adults program which engaged young adults with disabilities in our community with social impact.
It was such an incredible experience that we are running a Spring Session starting in April! We are truly grateful to work alongside such bright adults that are eager to make an impact.
Additionally, in Guatemala, we have been growing our programs. One program, in particular, Fortaleza which is a community group for young mothers and at-risk girls, is going to double in size. We will go from 10 participants to 20! We also are introducing counseling, medical care, and scholarship opportunities to the young women in the group.
The growth of this group comes at a critical time as many young women in the communities we serve are not going to school in person and have limited support and supervision from their parents because they must work all day. This unsupervised, idle time with little to no support makes them very vulnerable to falling into cycles that have gripped many of their families for generations such as teen pregnancy, involvement in organized crime, or truancy.
We are grateful to have two different Barrington community members volunteering on our Fortaleza Committee. Their names are Courtney Desmond-Keuer, and Dr. Lavanya Shankar. These amazing women help guide the strategic growth of the program.
What advice or tips do you have for Volunteers?
The advice we always give our student volunteers is to stay curious and in tune with your heart. What is the news story that you keep re-reading? What do you notice in your community that you want to change? Take note of what your heart is inclined to lean into and do some research. Find a nonprofit related to what you are curious about and check it out. Get involved and ask questions about how you could help.
Our advice for volunteers is to start with what they know. Everyone can make a unique impact with skills and gifts they already have. Do you love writing? Help a local nonprofit with their monthly newsletter. Have a son or daughter that loves technology? Encourage them to find an NGO that supports STEM learning in an underserved population.
One tip we have is to ask lots of questions! When you dedicate your time and talents somewhere, ask questions. Really get to know why a nonprofit does things the way they do. The more you are in tune with the greater vision of a nonprofit, the more you will realize how important each of your contributions to their impact is!
What advice or tips would you give to other nonprofits that need to utilize volunteers?
Something we try to do at HOPE’S IN is understand what the initial draw to our work was for each volunteer. That first spark will likely be something we can re-visit together as we roll up our sleeves and work hard together to make an impact.
Say thank you, a lot! Gratitude goes a long way.
A large percentage of our volunteers are high school students. For us, it has been really important to establish habits of dynamic leaders and social advocates beyond the scope of what they are used to. One key example of this is expanding their advocacy tools beyond the use of social media. We work with students to act beyond sharing something on their Instagram story or in a GroupMe. We write scripts to practice calling a community partner. We handwrite letters and meet face to face with people who are interested in our impact.
Is there anything you would like to share with BAVC & the community about your organization?
We are so excited to share that we have an upcoming event on April 11th! The event is our 9th annual fashion show fundraiser, Hope’s in Style! Our students are working incredibly hard to transform the fashion show into an amazing virtual experience. They hope to reach more people than ever and innovatively use technology to broadcast our goals and impact around the country.
The theme this year is Hope’s in Style: Masquerade, Hope Disguised. Stylists will create masquerade looks for our runway! We hope you will join us for this amazing fashion show event.
You can learn more about the event here: https://www.betterunite.com/
Interesting in becoming a part of Barrington Area Volunteer Connection? Join today at volunteer.thebavc.org!