As a first time volunteer for HOPE and their annual 5K event, I didn’t really have any idea of what to expect from the event. I figured the event seemed straightforward enough. A 5K race on a trail in Arlington and all that is expected of me is to hold some signs up and cheer the runners on. Simple enough, right?
Well, as I discovered, this event, this organization, and this experience was anything but simple. While on the surface it appeared that was all I was asked to do, it felt like so much more. When I arrived, I looked at the sign that was given to me, and it read, “67% of ‘at-risk’ children could not identify a single positive relationship in their life.” This was made to show the runners that their support of this organization was making a difference through their indirect support of one of HOPE’s programs that provides mentors for “at-risk” local children in Arlington. When I read that statistic, I was shocked at just how many children could not find positive influences in their life to guide them and encourage them to reach their full potential. I immediately thought to my own life and thought of where I would be were it not for the great role models I had in my own life, including my parents and others.
And while that was both disheartening and enlightening, when I turned the sign to the other side as the runners started their run back to the finish line, I found the other side had a message of encouragement and hope to the runners. It said, “You can be the hope that a child needs to succeed.” How cool is that!? As the runners stated their race, a sign to remind them why they were running and who they were running for. And on their way back, a note of encouragement to finish strong because they were the “hope that a child needs.” I was so inspired and touched by that message and I felt like in a very small way, I was able to contribute to that same cause.
So I want to thank HOPE for giving me that opportunity to participate in this awesome event for this awesome cause and amazing organization. Hopefully, in the future, I can continue to be involved with them and I encourage everyone who reads this to volunteer with them in any capacity so together we become the “hope that a child needs to succeed.”