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Hope Talks | March 2021

Hope Talks

“Making a Difference in the Lives of Children and Families Through Advocacy”

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Hope Talks

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve.

In this month’s episode, One Hope United’s President and CEO, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, is joined by Dr. Jody Levison-Johnson, President and CEO of The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Council on Accreditation, to discuss Making a Difference in the Lives of Children and Families Through Advocacy.

About Jody Levison-Johnson, PhD, LCSW

Dr. Jody Levison-Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker with nearly 30 years of experience in the field of human services. She currently serves as the President and CEO of The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Council on Accreditation, two nonprofit organizations in the midst of a merger working to create a dynamic network of human and social service organizations, activate the power of the social sector, and propel continuous evolution and policy change.

Jody is a longstanding champion for systems change that results in the ability for individuals and communities to thrive. Over several decades, her career has crossed a variety of private and public sector settings, including direct service organizations, a national membership association, state and local governments, and a management and consulting organization. Jody’s experiences leading system reform efforts across the country have prompted her interest in the environmental contexts that surround deep change in social and public systems. Jody holds a Master of Social Work degree from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts and PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University.

About One Hope United

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential.

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The Difference a Social Worker Can Make

No matter the circumstance surrounding a child’s interaction with a social worker, children remember how they were treated, and whether the social worker showed them compassion. This March, in honor of National Social Work Month, One Hope United is proud to share the impact that our social workers make in the lives of thousands of children and families each year.  

According to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, children learn to trust others, regulate their emotions, and interact with the world through their relationships with their primary caregivers. If a child has experienced trauma and, as a result, feels that they can’t trust their parent or caregiver, a social worker may be one of the only consistent and dependable adult figures in that child’s life. 

A child may meet their social worker for the first time when they’re waiting for a foster care placement, traveling for a visit with their biological family members, or in the waiting room at a doctor’s office. Having a caring figure in these turbulent moments gives children a sense of stability. Courtney Dundee, therapist with One Hope United’s Community Based Family Services, described her role as “walking alongside children during the hardest part of their little lives, and helping them get to the other side where they feel hopeful and safe once again.”

One Hope United’s former clients have shared that the small interactions they had with their social worker made all the difference. Whether a social worker remembered their favorite flavor of soda or chatted with them about a TV show, these moments helped them to feel seen and recognized. 

Sarah Tunning, Executive Director of OHU’s Florida Services, shared a memory of a young boy who spent one day at her office while waiting for his next foster care placement. He exhibited several complex behavioral issues related to past trauma and was having a hard day. His case manager told Sarah what his favorite food and drink items were from a few restaurants in the area, and after Sarah picked them up and the boy had his meal, he felt much calmer, and was able to relax. “We spend a lot of time with these children during ‘in-between’ times, riding in the car or waiting at the office,” Sarah said. “The in-between moments seem small, but they allow children to have more interactions with people who really care.”

Teenagers involved in the child welfare system also benefit from a supportive and caring social worker. They may keep in touch with their social worker even after services end, often turning to them for help connecting to community resources, or simply for someone to listen. Mallory Johnston, Case Manager with One Hope United’s Comprehensive Community-Based Youth Services (CCBYS) program, described her experience working with a homeless teenager in December of 2020. She helped him move into a homeless shelter in Mount Vernon, Illinois on his 18th birthday, and throughout their 90 days together, Mallory helped him to enroll in high school and obtain a medical card. They also discussed his future and worked on important life skills. He is currently on-track to graduate in May of 2021. Mallory said, “He sees me as a constant support system, and as someone who is willing to help him with whatever he needs at the time. There is hardly a day that goes by that I do not receive a ‘good morning’ text from him.”

Additionally, social workers support parents who may feel they have almost no one else to turn to. Dennis Delgado, Executive Director of One Hope United’s Community Based Family Services, shared about a 17-year-old single mother of two who received services from a One Hope United social worker. This young woman was a senior in high school and working part-time to care for her children.  She also was a victim of domestic violence and had recently lost the support of her mother. She often shared concerns about having had to grow up too soon and missing out on her youth.

This young woman shared that she felt her life was transformed after receiving domestic violence services, paid day care services, and individual counseling. She also received day-to-day household essentials, including food, diapers, and children’s clothes. While working with her OHU case manager, she decided to fully end her relationship with her children’s father, and obtained an order of protection against him. She was also able to attend her senior prom and graduate from high school.

Initially, this young woman could not believe her social worker would actually help her with her needs,” Dennis said. “They were successful because they collaborated for the good of the family.”

Dennis concluded, “Social workers are essentially a light in the darkness that the children and families we serve often face. They are often angels in disguise.     

Hope Talks | February 2021

Hope Talks

Investing in Communities for the Health of our Children

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Hope Talks

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve.

In this month’s episode, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer is joined by Bryan Echols, Principal and Founder of BE. The Change Consulting, to discuss Investing in Communities for the Health of our Children.

About Bryan Echols

Bryan Echols is currently a Senior Advisor for Illinois State Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs. In his capacity as a Senior Advisor, Bryan brings his years of banking, financial services, nonprofit management and academic experiences to serve the Treasurer and the State of Illinois. Before coming to the State Treasurer’s office, he served as the Community Restorative Justice Hubs Director in the city of Chicago.

Bryan is also the Principal and Founder of BE. The Change Consulting. BE. The Change Consulting works in the areas of youth leadership development, civic engagement, community organizing, the intersectionality of race and class, and cross-cultural equity work. He enjoys teaching Master’s level and Ph.D. students at Adler University in the Social Justice Practicum. He has chaired the Multicultural Leadership Council for the American Heart Association for the last 3 years. Echols is currently a board member for the Workers Center for Racial Justice, Board Treasurer for United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations, and a Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Fellow.

About One Hope United

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential.

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Celebrating Black Leaders in Child and Family Welfare

Black History Month is a time to celebrate the stories of African Americans who have brought about incredible advancements throughout history. This month at One Hope United, we are highlighting Black leaders who dedicated their careers to Child and Family Welfare.

 

Carter Godwin Woodson

Black History Month grew out of Negro History Week, which was the brainchild of noted historian, author and journalist, Carter Godwin Woodson. While studying at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, Woodson noted that the teaching of American history largely ignored African Americans. He dedicated his life to educating the public about the achievements and contributions of African Americans, and because of his work, we celebrate the central role African Americans have played in American history every February. He chose February because the month contained the birthdays of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two prominent men whose historic achievements African Americans already celebrated.

Source: History.com

 

Thyra Edwards

Thyra J. Edwards, born in 1897, the granddaughter of runaway slaves, grew up in Houston, Texas and started her career there as a school teacher. Edwards would eventually become a world lecturer, journalist, labor organizer, women’s rights advocate, and civil rights activist all before her 40th birthday. After World War II ended, she opened the first child care program in Rome, to serve survivors of the Holocaust.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

 

 

Fanny Jackson Coppin

Fanny Jackson Coppin was a teacher, principal, lecturer, and missionary to Africa. She was born a slave, but fervently pursued education and felt her purpose in life was to provide educational opportunities for Black youth. She taught evening classes for freedmen while earning her degree at Oberlin College, and eventually became the first Black school principal in the United States. She once said, “It was in me… to get an education and to teach my people. This idea was deep in my soul.”

Source: Coppin State University

 

 

Marian Wright Edelman

Marian Wright Edelman began her career in the mid-60s when, as the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar, she directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. In l968, she moved to Washington, D.C., as counsel for the Poor People’s Campaign that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began organizing before his death. In 1973, she founded the Children’s Defense Fund, and lobbied Congress to increase resources for adoption, change the foster care system, and support children in need.

Source: Children’s Defense Fund

 

Janie Porter Barrett

Janie Porter Barrett founded the Locust Street Social Settlement to educate African American youth in 1890. In 1915, she founded the Virginia Industrial School for Colored Girls to help young women become self-reliant, educated, and prepared for employment. She is best known for her work to rehabilitate young African American women who had been imprisoned.

Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

 

 

Even in the face of the challenges we face as a country in this moment, there is hope. These trailblazing leaders paved the way for our Case Managers, Social Workers, Therapists, Teachers, and all those at One Hope United who work endlessly to ensure the wellbeing of the children, youth and families we serve. We are grateful for their legacy of leadership.

 

 

Hope Talks | January 2021

Hope Talks

“The Intersection of Community-Based Organizations”

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Hope Talks

One Hope United is proud to bring you Hope Talks, monthly conversations with leaders in the child and family welfare sector. By having these conversations, we hope to inspire actionable change and work together to improve outcomes for the children and families we serve.

In the first episode of Hope Talks, “The Intersection of Community-Based Organizations,” Howard Brown Health President and CEO, David Ernesto Munar, joins President and CEO of One Hope United, Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, to discuss the similar challenges their organizations face in serving their communities and the steps they’ve taken to meet this historic moment.

About David Ernesto Munar

Since joining Howard Brown Health in 2014, David Ernesto Munar has focused on ensuring the delivery of excellent patient services, strengthening finances and operations, and positioning the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ organization for long-term sustainability and growth.  Prior to Howard Brown, Munar honed his career at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago where he held several positions, including President and CEO.

He served on the boards of the Cook County Health and Hospital System, the Illinois Primary Health Care Association, AllianceChicago, and the Black AIDS Institute.  In 2007, he helped launch a national coalition that led to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy unveiled by President Obama in July 2010.  In 2019, he co-chaired Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Healthy Children & Families Transition Committee and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Health and Human Services Transition Committee.

About One Hope United

Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multistate nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. We serve over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. With our evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, we empower children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential.

Don't miss out on future Hope Talks!

Sign up to have future Hope Talks emailed directly to your inbox and never miss a future episode!


No Longer Silent

“You are the strongest person to ever sit in that chair,” Judge Ericka Sanders said to 16-year-old Bailey*. Bailey and her team of OHU counselors listened intently as Judge Sanders went on to praise Bailey for sharing her story of trauma and abuse, and bravely taking the next step in her healing process.   

Bailey’s testimony comes three years after that of her twin sister, Bree*, who testified in court to the horrific abuse both girls endured at the hands of their adoptive father. This man is now in prison for the sexual assault of Bree that resulted in a pregnancy at the age of 13, and for the kidnapping of Bree and her son, Eli*. In the same year that Bree became pregnant, the girls lost their mother to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that also inhabits Bailey’s body.   

Because Bree was the only victim identified in the case, Bailey was denied the opportunity to testify at their adopted father’s trial. For three years, Bailey has carried the weight of this forced silence with her. She has since been placed at One Hope United’s Centralia residential home for a second time after struggling with self-harm, suicidal ideations, and depression.  

In February of 2020, Bailey’s counselors had an idea. The team wondered what would be different for Bailey if she could rewrite her narrative. What if she could tell her story to someone who could make real changes in the system? How would life be different for Bailey if she had her day in court? Judge Ericka Sanders, the Marion County Juvenile Judge, agreed that Bailey deserved this opportunity.  

Judge Sanders has made great efforts to prioritize the mental health of any youth who comes into her courtroom. Knowing Judge Sanders’ propensity to be an agent of change, Bailey’s care team reached out to her with a novel idea. The team wanted to bring Bailey to the courthouse to testify in front of a judge and to share the story she had been unable to tell three years prior. Within 15 minutes of the email being sent, Judge Sanders responded saying she would be honored to help.   

Two weeks later, Judge Sanders met with Bailey’s care team at a local coffee house to iron out the details. OHU counselors Jayme Godoyo, Sarah Downen, Brandon Newcomer, and Jessica Perry shared more details of Bailey’s story with Judge Sanders. They agreed that Bailey’s court session should be treated as if it were a real court session, complete with Judge Sanders in her black robe and calling court into session for The People vs. Bailey’s abuser. Judge Sanders also shared with the team that the courthouse now has access to a therapy dog, and that it would be a good idea for Bailey to first practice being in the courtroom. The team agreed Bailey would love this idea, and it would be the perfect opportunity for the dog to use his skills.   

On the day of Bailey’s court session, Judge Sanders offered her the choice to sit at a table or in the witness stand. Without hesitating, Bailey chose the witness stand.   

When Bailey took her seat to the left side of the judge, she paused for a moment. Bailey was given the space and silence she needed to collect herself as her counselor, Jayme Godoyo, took a seat next to her. Quietly, Jayme provided Bailey the comfort she needed to regain her composure. Not sure where to begin, Jayme encouraged Bailey to start with her earliest memory.  

The adults in the room sat silent and still, fighting back tears at times, as Bailey took the next thirty minutes to tell the story she had waited years to tell. With Jayme at her side, Bailey recounted the abuse she endured, the devastation she felt over her mom’s death, and the guilt she still carries with her today because she couldn’t stop her sister Bree’s sexual assault. “I’m protective of her,” Bailey said. “I’m happy we have Eli [Bree’s son], but I’m sad she got pregnant.”   

When Bailey finished, she looked out onto the small crowd of people and said, “does anyone have any questions?” The conviction in her tone was that of a young woman in control of a room. When asked what advice she would give to other young girls who may have shared similar experiences, without hesitation Bailey softly but strongly stated, “Keep fighting…always keep fighting.”   

*Names have been changed to protect privacy. 

 LEARN MORE ABOUT OHU’S RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

Hope for the Holidays

“Someday, I want my kids to live in a house like this,” Michael said, looking around at the three-story renovated home for the first time.

Michael had just toured One Hope United’s new residential home, called Hope House, in Fort Lauderdale. He told house parents he had never stepped foot in a place like this before. Dancing around, he confidently stated he wants to do what’s right, so he can live somewhere like this when he grows up.

Before moving into Hope House, Michael faced many struggles. Michael is a dually involved teenager, which means he’s interacted with both the child welfare and juvenile detention systems in his young life. Dually involved young people often face a high level of difficulty obtaining a placement in foster care, significant barriers to achieving permanency and are at a higher risk for lengthy stays in detention facilities.

Hope House is uniquely positioned to serve young people aged 14-17 like Michael. The staff ratio at Hope House is 4:1, which means more individualized attention from house parents. In choosing a property, Sarah Tunning, Executive Director of OHU’s services in Florida, wanted to provide “a really nice home environment for the young men, first and foremost.”

One Hope United focuses on making sure the environment at Hope House is not only inclusive, but it sets youth up for success. For example, when a young person is placed at Hope House, they first go to a local retail store with one of their house parents, so they can choose the right hygiene products for their unique skin and hair needs. In other group home or foster care placements, these young men may have had to use whatever personal care products were on hand in the home, even if it irritated their skin or wasn’t right for their hair. Then, they go out to dinner with a house parent, where they discuss strategies that will help them grow and develop in the coming months.

After they settle into their new home, these young men focus on independent living skills like improving academic performance, getting a part-time job, and opening a savings account. “Our goal is that when these young men turn 18, they’re on a college or career path, and they’ve strengthened healthy relationships with their family members and mentors in the area,” Sarah shared.

Sarah has noticed strong connections forming already between the youth currently living at Hope House. Two of the young men living in the house, Matthew and Ben, developed a strong friendship in just a few weeks. When Matthew had a mental health episode and had to go to the hospital, Ben made sure to look after his things while he was gone.

“These are kids that are used to fighting for everything,” Sarah said. “We want them to feel they are safe here, and to know their house parents really care about them.”

To celebrate the holidays, the young men living at Hope House will enjoy a special meal prepared by their house dad who loves to cook. Then, they’ll play board games together in the living room, lit by their Christmas tree.

You can purchase specific items requested by house parents and the young men living at Hope House here. You can also learn about our other residential programs at this link.

*names of the young men living at Hope House have been changed to protect privacy. 

SUPPORT HOPE HOUSE   OHU RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS

One Hope United Hosts ‘Foster Boy’ Screening and Talkback

One Hope United partnered last week with attorney and producer/writer Jay Paul Deratany to host a screening of his new film, Foster Boy, followed by a talkback and reception.

Foster Boy tells the story of an African American teenager who was physically and sexually abused by an older foster care teen after the two were placed in the same home by a for-profit foster care company.

View the event photos on our Facebook page here

As a nonprofit agency providing foster care services, One Hope United hosted the screening to share the powerful film with its supporters and bring attention to the danger that arises when organizations put profits ahead of children’s well-being.

“A child is not a commodity,” Deratany told a capacity audience at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. “You have to give a kid a chance. You have to give them some hope.”

The movie was inspired by three true foster care abuse cases in which Deratany was involved and stars Matthew Modine as the attorney and Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. as the judge. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, a child advocate himself who took a special interest in the movie’s topic, is an executive producer.

In the talkback, moderator Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President and CEO of One Hope United, asked Deratany about the role of the arts in raising awareness about this and other serious topics.

“We have to tell stories of abuse, we have to tell stories about racial prejudice, we have to tell stories that bring us back together as a country, that unite us again,” Deratany answered. We have to come together to conquer some of the problems that we have.”

Melissa Webster, One Hope United’s Executive Director of Residential and Day Treatment Services, spoke on the panel about the film’s realistic depiction of the effects of trauma on youth.

“One thing that trauma robs from kids is that sense that they have a future,” said Webster. “A big part of what we do is help them find that hope so they can start to see that they’re going to have a future as well, that they have a chance to have a different kind of life.”

“One Hope United does some great work,” Deratany said. “We have to give recognition to a great group like this, because we need to continue to fight for our kids.”

To support children in foster care who have experienced trauma, you may donate to One Hope United here.

 

More Information

Become a One Hope United foster parent.

Visit the Foster Boy website.

Read an interview with Jay Paul Deratany.

Watch a video from the event.

Annual Meeting Features Deputy Gov. Sol Flores, New Board Leadership Announced

Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores (pictured above) offered high praise to One Hope United during the Annual Meeting of the 124-year-old social service organization. Speaking to more than 60 staff, board members, donors and community supporters at the yearly event held at The University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, Flores provided an inspiring message of hope.

“While I’ve only been on the job for 4 ½ months,” Flores said, “I’m absolutely certain the state needs leaders and organizations like One Hope United to continue and expand your work on strengthening children, families and communities.”

One Hope United’s Annual Meeting was also streamed to hundreds of viewers on Facebook Live for the first time as the organization continues to provide more opportunities to communicate and engage with stakeholders and the public.

Flores recounted lessons from her hard-working single mother, who taught Flores the meaning of responsibility. Flores said despite her mother working two jobs, she still needed assistance from numerous social service programs, such as those provided by One Hope United.

As Deputy Governor, Flores oversees the $35 billion portfolio of health and human services in Illinois where she says, “Twelve million Illinoisians are touched by the delivery of our Health and Human Services system either through direct assistance or the benefit of that investment in our neighbors, our workplaces, communities and families.”

“When we stop criminalizing and judging people and families for circumstances like poverty and homelessness, we can instead begin to focus on uplifting and investing in their maximum human potential and dignity,” Flores said.

One Hope United’s President & CEO, Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer outlined his vision, building upon the organization’s expertise, solidarity, distinguished service and support in areas of social service, early learning, foster care and adoption.

“Together we must all understand what we do – and equally what we do not do – changes the trajectory of the lives of children and families,” he said.

In her last official address, One Hope United Board Chairwoman Theresa Dear proudly shared the board’s many accomplishments, including its diverse makeup of 50% women and 45% people of color. From the hiring of President & CEO Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer, to the establishment of the One Hope United Future Scholars Scholarship, Dear is confident the organization is poised to continue living its mission.

“One Hope United aspires to be a premier thought leader and service provider where every child and family regardless of zip code, skin color, religion, socioeconomic status, pronoun, can indeed experience a life without limits,” Dear said as she thanked everyone for the opportunity to serve.

Also during the annual meeting, Chairwoman Dear announced the new leadership team taking the helm of One Hope United as it begins its new fiscal year. Beginning July 1, long-time board member RJ Young, Retired Chairman, Allstate Canada, is Board Chairman; Anthony Austin, VP, Human Resources of Portillo’s Hot Dogs, is Vice Chairman; Cindy Lusignan, Senior Vice President at Marsh, is Treasurer; and Kate Shaffer, Risk Management Officer for Yargus Manufacturing, Inc. is Secretary.

Chairwoman Dear also detailed the numerous agency accomplishments in the past year.

  • While many non-profit and for profit boards struggle with diversity, the One Hope United board composition is 50% female and 45% people of color.
  • Established the One Hope United Future Scholars Scholarship.
  • Named a wing of the Edgewater Center as the Toni Sandor Smith Future Scholars Learning Lab, after one of the longest serving board members.
  • Named the organization’s Lake Villa Campus after the first client who ascended to the position of board member, Ermit L. Finch.
  • Established the M&A committee to posture One Hope United for potential growth.
  • Created a model for stakeholder, community and leadership engagement in the President’s Circle and Friends of One Hope United.
  • Established Life Director and Emeritus status for exemplary, extraordinary and distinctive leadership on the board. Life Director and Chair Emeritus – Toni Smith. Ermit Finch – Life Director.
  • Hired Dr. Charles Montorio-Archer.
  • Completed election of new and incoming officers.

Supporters Gather to Share ‘Why I Have Hope’ at Hope In Action Fundraiser

One Hope United thanks the 250 supporters who attended Hope In Action:Why I Have Hope gala on Friday, May 3rd, at the Hilton Chicago and who helped drive opportunity and impact for children and families! We’re very appreciative for their presence and immense support that has been shown to our organization. We are even closer to fulfilling our vision: For every child and family, life without limits.
Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer, President & CEO

“In this work of human dignity, human respect and human acknowledgement, the mission building and mission movement work at One Hope United requires that we draw community closer,” Dr. Charles A. Montorio-Archer said.  “You are our community. And by being with us – together with us – this community will empower others to live Life Without Limits. Join me, join us, Turn Hope Into Action.”

Among the highlights of the night were the presentations of the Ermit Finch Impact Award to Nannie Crudup (below), The Chairwoman’s Award to Patrick Kingston, The President’s Award to Todd Schultz, and the Turn Hope Into Action award to Marc D. Smith.
Nannie Crudup received the Ermit Finch Award
Check out the sights and sounds of Hope In Action: Why I Have Hope, featuring music by special guest Mario Bonds.

Visit us on Facebook to view all of the fun photos from the night. Be sure to tag yourself and your friends!

A big thank you to all who came out to hear “Why I Have Hope” stories and helped make the evening such a success. Didn’t have the chance to raise your paddle at Hope In Action 2019? You can still support OHU by clicking here.