HOPE’S IN Team Steps Up Locally & Globally During COVID-19 Pandemic

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An elderly woman in Guatemala smiling as she receives a bag of staple foods from Hope’s In.

Just a week after their 8th annual fashion show fundraiser, Hope’s in Style, and days before a team was scheduled to build a home in Guatemala City, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The events following would completely change how Spring and Summer would look at HOPE’S IN, a local nonprofit whose mission is to empower families living in Guatemala City and help develop the next generation of humanitarian leaders.

Members of the Konicek family who traveled with HOPE’S IN over the past three years.

Canceled events and in-person meetings with students, not bringing their usual seventy-five person team to Guatemala for the first summer in seven years, and the knowledge of how the pandemic could devastate the communities they work alongside in Guatemala City quickly beckoned the team at HOPE’S IN to innovate. As the Board of Directors rose to the occasion to meet more frequently and communicate very closely with their partner organizations in Guatemala City, the team developed a plan to empower families both locally and globally with hope as they faced the pandemic.

HOPE’S IN is Feeding 544 PEOPLE, Almost 5% of the Population of the Communities they Work Alongside.

Two little girls in Zone 3 whose family build their home with HOPE’S IN last summer.

Though HOPE’S IN couldn’t be there physically in Guatemala this summer, their impact didn’t stop. As an organization, HOPE’S IN decided to provide very focused relief efforts in the communities they have worked alongside for the past eight years. These communities, often referred to as “the garbage dump communities”, are located in Zone 3 of Guatemala City right by the city’s landfill. Over 475 volunteers from Barrington and beyond have traveled with HOPE’S IN to these communities and know how hard working the families are, however, because of the quarantine here’s what the families were up against:

  • Families have not been able to work in the garbage dump for over three months. That means their daily wages of $5-7 a day have not been obtainable, therefore families are going hungry.
  • With so many people being home all day, the water system cannot manage the demand and these marginalized communities are only provided access to water 2 times a week. Often, the water is only available in the middle of the night which has left families staying up throughout the night just to get some water. This is very dangerous as we know hand washing is a key element to preventing the spread of the virus not to mention other health concerns this creates.
  • The government safety net is nearly nonexistent. Although there is a shelter in place requirements, the government programs have only offered one bag of supplies to families over the last several months.
Participants in the Fortaleza Program and members of the HOPE’S IN board in Guatemala last summer.

To help families in this time of crisis, HOPE’S IN decided to provide relief through staple foods and water with the aim to keep families safe with the most basic necessities. Here is their commitment:

  • Providing staple foods in partnership with Potters House Association for the 41 families they have built homes for in the past that don’t have children in the Potter’s House Sponsorship Program as these children are receiving food through sponsor’s donations.
  • Providing staple foods for the Fortaleza women and their families along with food for 30 other single, expectant teen mothers.
  • Providing educational materials for the teen mothers in the Fortaleza program to be able to healthily engage with their children and understand important mental health topics that could surface due to the shelter in place order.
  • Providing to 10 women from our OSO Microenterprise program with staple foods. .
  • Providing staple foods for 10 elderly individuals who have no family to care for them.

Their Executive Director, Courtney McGovern who graduated from Barrington High School in 2014, shared with their volunteers: “As an organization, we feel so deeply in our hearts that this is the right thing to do. Knowing that families we love so much are struggling to eat is heartbreaking. These relief efforts will be evaluated on a month-to-month basis and be discussed by our board each month. We don’t want to create any dependency and know that these families prefer to be hardworking again to provide for themselves. As you all know, poverty is complex and is much more than a lack of basic needs. To overcome poverty, in a holistic way, people also need personal accomplishment and increased self-esteem.”

The organization established an Emergency Response Fund  that invites people to be part of their efforts. For just $2 a day, staple foods can be provided for a family who is currently struggling to put food on the table in Zone 3.

HOPE’S IN is grateful that some of their programs can continue normally like their Inclusion Alliance work. The Inclusion Alliance is currently helping an adult residential home for women with disabilities aging out of the orphan care system in Guatemala employ a special educator. This is being done through a generous grant from Avolon Aerospace. The Inclusion Alliance team is creating virtual training for the teacher per topics she has requested.

The program also has two new college aged Interns, Sophie and Eve Hoeltgen, who are raising awareness and funds for a project they are calling Students for Playgrounds. The BHS graduates will work with Hope’s In to build an accessible playground for Guatemala City’s only special education school.

HOPE’S IN Student Volunteers Make an Impact Locally

Helping develop the next generation of humanitarian leaders is one of the core elements of HOPE’S IN’s mission. In order to fulfill that mission, HOPE’S IN has several programs that focus on giving students the tools and confidence to change the world. Two of these core programs are the HOPE’S INterns Program and the Hope’s In Academy, a program sponsored in 2019 by the Barrington Area Community Foundation.

The HOPE’S INterns are best known for their efforts to organize Hope’s in Style each year, an event that brings together hundreds of people and raised over $75,000 in March.

Local students participating in the 8th annual Hope’s in Style. Photos by Bob Lee.

This group of about 25 students meets twice a month throughout the year to learn about nonprofit management, create awareness campaigns for HOPE’S IN’s mission and sharpen their skills as humanitarian leaders. As the pandemic hit, students could no longer meet in person but that didn’t stop them from their important work! The INterns created a video to spread love to people in the Barrington community, helped host a virtual give back event with Kendra Scott to benefit the organization, and are currently planning a car wash fundraiser at the Hollis Brothers Auto Repair parking lot on July 25th.

In addition to the INterns’ work, the Hope’s In Academy students were creating their own ripples of change. The Hope’s In Academy is a humanitarian leadership development program run in Barrington High School and is instructed by McGovern. The program is for Freshmen students who apply or are nominated by their peers or teachers.

One of the seventy-three masks made by Hope’s in Academy students.

Through the Hope’s In Academy, students learn about nonprofit organization management, social advocacy, and even complete a service project as a team. Each team quickly had to pivot and modify the projects they had been planning for. Two teams are currently combining their efforts to bring hope to elderly people in our community. However, one group’s project was completed last week. The team of students created a budget, ordered the supplies needed, and hand sewed 73 masks for the Heartland Alliance in Chicago. The Heartland Alliance will distribute the masks to medical personnel and people who live in their shelters throughout Chicago for people experiencing homelessness. Each mask was beautifully made and had a note that said: “It’s a good day to be happy.”

HOPE’S IN is Giving Middle Schoolers the Chance to Engage with Social Impact this Summer

This Summer, HOPE’S IN is launching the Hope’s In Academy Junior; a virtual summer camp that creates fun, age-appropriate conversations for students to learn how to change the world.

Based on the Hope’s In Academy’s curriculum, this modified course will help middle school students learn about social impact and meet various nonprofits in the Barrington area. The camp will be hosted by McGovern who co-founded HOPE’S IN with her twin sister while they were Juniors in high school. McGovern went to New York University and majored in Nonprofit Organization Management. The camp is also directed by Campbell Henry. Henry is a rising Sophomore at Indiana University and is studying Business Analytics and Marketing.

The camp is 3 weeks long and participants will meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Each Tuesday session participants will learn about advocacy and during our Thursday sessions, participants will go on virtual field trips to local nonprofits. These include a virtual art class at Kaleidoscope and a behind the scenes tour of the Mane in Heaven stables!

HOPE’S IN believes that service gives people an opportunity for a more purposeful life, a way to discover personal talents and passions, and allows people to act compassionately. The organization hopes you will join them on our journey to become stronger humanitarian leaders! Sign ups for the camp are LIVE and will be open until July 3rd. CLICK HERE to learn more and sign up.

TEAM HOPE is Stronger Than Ever

Though they won’t go to Guatemala with a team this year their work remains important and impactful. HOPE’S IN’s team will join everyone around the world as they grow in resilience and tenacity amidst the pandemic. McGovern said: “This summer is different than any summer we’ve ever experienced before in so many ways. However, we are confident that we are doing all we can to reassure the families we love so much locally and in Guatemala that we are still here for them. We know things are tough right now but the best is yet to come.”

As the summer continues, HOPE’S IN invites you to get involved and continue to learn how the pandemic is affecting families in third world countries. The organization plans to host virtual webinars to keep people informed and engaged with their team. Additionally, sign ups for the 2021 service trips are live and people can inquire by emailing courtney@hopesin.org To learn more, follow them on Instagram @hopes_in or check out their Facebook Page, Hope’s In NFP.

Graduating Senior, Intern and Trip Participant, Isabelle, hugs the family she worked alongside goodbye.

Co-founded in 2012 by twin sisters, Courtney & Ashley Quigley during their junior year at Barrington High School, HOPE’S IN is dedicated to impacting and empowering the Guatemala City garbage dump communities and developing the next generation of humanitarian leaders. To-date, Hope’s In volunteers have built dozens of safe homes and inspired hundreds of student volunteers to travel to Guatemala to help bring hope to families living in poverty. Learn more about the mission at HopesIn.org.

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