Founded in 1977, Boys Hope Girls Hope is a non-profit organization that was designed to help capable, talented and motivated young people meet their full academic potential in spite of challenging family and economic backgrounds. Boys Hope Girls Hope was started in Baltimore in 2002, and there are currently two homes, one with eight boys and one with eight girls, which have full-time “house parents” who provide all needed support for the scholars. The Girls Hope home was rebuilt in 2010 as part of ABC’s television show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The scholars are selected for acceptance into the program after a rigorous application process, which includes academic and behavioral screening. According to their website, to be considered for acceptance, the candidate has to have a background that clearly demonstrates they will benefit from a long-term, value-centered and nurturing residential setting.
On Thursday, February 21, more than 100 women gathered at the Girls Hope home for the second annual Hearts & Hope Event, an evening of tiaras, cocktails and inspiration to benefit the mission of Girls Hope. Upon arrival, each guest was given a tiara to wear during the event and encouraged to “embrace the queen within.” Those in attendance to the invite-only event, volunteers and supporters of Boys Hope Girls Hope, filtered through the breathtaking venue, bid on fabulous silent auction items, enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and spent time getting to know the girls. In attendance Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a three-year advocate and supporter of Girls Hope. Rawlings-Blake addressed the crowd: “The first time I met these girls, I knew I was looking at our future. If we look back, we all have someone we can call a mentor who supported us. Thank you all for doing the same for these girls.”
Cierra, one of the Girls Hope scholars, gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech. She spoke about how her mother had encountered many “lemons” in life, yet chose to make lemonade instead. “The best lemonade she ever made was allowing me to become a Girls Hope scholar,” Cierra said. Boys Hope Girls Hope provides year-round residence and support for its scholars; participants attend local private schools and are actively involved in college preparatory programs during the summer.
There are several ways to support the mission of Boys Hope Girls Hope. As with any non-profit organization, financial support is always needed. Boys Hope Girls Hope is largely supported through their Circle of Hope partners, who give a contribution of $1,000 per year that goes toward the home, living expenses and transportation. Jaclyn Pavelec-Ceesay, who volunteers and supports marketing efforts for Boys Hope Girls Hope, addressed the crowd, saying “Circle of Hope members give the girls an opportunity to rise above their circumstances and adversity to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.”
Girls Hope Development Director Jennifer Meyerhoff shared several ways that women can get involved to support Girls Hope. The organization welcomes and encourages women to volunteer their professional expertise and skills. For example, a woman who is a writer for a living can volunteer to give a workshop on creative writing. Business owners are encouraged to volunteer their area of expertise. For example, a salon owner could invite the girls to her salon and teach them about how the business operates, or donate services for hair and makeup for prom or a special event. There is no limit to the way that women can contribute through sharing their talents and being a role model to the girls. The overall goal of this type of volunteerism is to broaden horizons and teach the girls about the opportunities that are available for them to pursue. These types of experiences “open up a world that they would never know existed,” Meyerhoff notes.
Boys Hope Girls Hope has several events slated for 2013. To learn more about volunteering with Girls Hope, please visit their website for an application, or contact JoEllen Robinson at their office.
Boys Hope Girls Hope
3700 E. Northern Parkway; 2nd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21206