42 years ago Hi-Hope Service Center was around - doing what it does best: support individuals with developmental disabilities. Things were a bit different - at that time we supported children with disabilities. The staff was different, some of the buildings did not yet exist, the structure of our program was not the same and even much of the language we use in this field has since changed. But, Hi-Hope existed in the same place where we operate now, serving Gwinnett County, making ourselves a positive force in the community and striving to make a difference in the lives of individuals. It is pretty cool to think about our history extending back that far in an era where the lifespan of many an organization is so short. It also made us think, "I wonder what Hi-Hope was like back in the day" and fortunately we have the ability to see one moment 42 years ago.
Hi-Hope Volunteer Coordinator Nick Reynolds was pouring through some of the old scrap books and came across a page dedicated to an event that happened in November of 1974. It's perfect because tomorrow is Thanksgiving and among the many American traditions associated with this holiday, watching football is definitely one of them. It seems that 42 years ago around this time, Hi-Hope was hosting the Hi-Hope Charity Bowl.
The yellowing newspaper scrape proclaims, "It's Football Bowl time in Gwinnett County. The Gwinnett Midget Football Conference (GMFC) Champions are ready for the Annual Hi-Hope Bowl kickoff on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 22 and 23 to be held at Norcross High School Field this year...Mayor Carl Garner has issued a giant welcome to teams, coaches and parents of the GMF Conference and to all Gwinnett citizens to support this fine sports event for Hi-Hope to be held in Norcross." Many people and organizations supported the event, including Norcross High School, the Norcross Lions Club, a group of women from the Norcross Lion's Auxillary Club, the Hi-Hope PTA, Lawrenceville-area State Representative Virginia Hileman, Shriners, Twirlers, Antique Cars and many more. The newspaper clipping also states that Mr. Felton Crews - then president of the GMFC - stressed to the players that "they are playing also for those at Hi-Hope 'to fulfill themselves to the best of their capabilities.'" Ultimately, the South Gwinnett Raiders of the 70-pound division of GMFC defeated the Lawrenceville Jets, 44-25. So there you go, 42 years ago to the day this is being written, the South Gwinnett Raiders emerged victorious. Additionally, the event was the most successful in history, surpassing previous fundraising levels.
It's amazing to think that an oft ignored, barely intact scrap book yielded such a special insight into history. It captured a moment that ties in beautifully with present day. Gwinnetians still love their youth football, they still actively engage in numerous charity events, they still support Hi-Hope and Hi-Hope continues to support individuals with developmental disabilities with a mission to help folks experience fulfillment through meaningful experiences in their daily lives.