"You should feel a nice, gentle stretch"

Canadian Gymnast and Olympic Gold Medalist Kyle Shewfelt recognizes the advantages of yoga, stating, "not only is yoga excellent for flexibility, but it is also a great tool for longevity and injury prevention, as it allows for internal body awareness." This is fantastic because yoga is now a regular part of programming at Hi-Hope. Since February of 2018, Hi-Hope has been participating in weekly yoga classes. The instructor, Patricia, is a photographer and friend of Hi-Hope CEO, Susan Boland Butts, and has taken photographs of our individuals in the past. The yoga studio is in Pat's garage, which she converted to a photography/yoga studio and is big enough to accommodate 5 students, a Hi-Hope staff member and Patricia. 

Patricia creates a calming ambiance with music, dimmed lights and candles to encourage relaxation and mindfulness. She also ends each class by giving her students a special beverage that changes from week to week. She has also had participants stay after for lunch following the class. 

Stacy Badjan is the staff member currently assigned to this project and she reports that the class is going great and that "the individuals love it." Participant Carl approached CAG Coordinator Valorie Williams after his first time and said that he loved yoga and wanted to continue taking the class. While there are regulars, if people are absent, Patricia is flexible and will work with substitutes. She wants to open the class to anyone who is interested so new participants will rotate in over time. 

We hope to continue offering unique and interesting activities to the individuals we support at Hi-Hope. Yoga class joins the diverse list of volunteer driven offerings like hula dance class, cooking class, music appreciation, Name-That-Tune, aerobics, sign language and many more. A big thank you to Patricia and all our volunteers for making the days and weeks at Hi-Hope that much more interesting.

The "Rush" of Rush

Hi-Hope is once again the beneficiary of some very generous volunteer efforts as part of Perimeter Church's annual Rush Conference. For those not in the know, Rush Conference is a student-led leadership conference with "stuff like worship, small groups, seminars, food, fun, missions, enough candy to frighten a dentist, and well, tons more." Hi-Hope benefits from the "missions" component of the conference. The Rush website describes the missions as follows: 

Part of learning to be a mature follower of Christ is learning to be His hands and feet. Community outreach projects all over the city of Atlanta allow students to exercise their faith and to experience what it means to share the love of Christ.

Hi-Hope loves being a mission site as it guarantees that every summer, for three days, a group of fantastic students visit us with open minds, full hearts and the desire to serve. There is no service challenge they are unwilling to tackle. As in previous years, the volunteers spent the first half of their visit interacting with our individuals. Afterward, the groups tackled operational projects. This year they sorted art supplies, moved artwork and moved some seasonal decorations into more permanent storage. It might not sound like much, but their help reduced the project timeline from several days to a couple hours. This year's groups represented folks from Perimeter Church right here in Atlanta, a group from Florida that had visited Hi-Hope several years ago, and a group from Chickamauga.

Each year Rush is a bit of a whirlwind - or a RUSH. It is three busy days of young folks coming with energy and enthusiasm and the genuine desire to help. It injects our organization with vitality and inspiration and the capacity to take on some tasks that we just can't handle on our own. Indeed, the "rush" of Rush is a welcome and wonderful thing that we look forward to doing for years to come.

The Results Are In...

In our last blog post, we wrote about the upcoming elections for Hi-Hope Client Council. Well, the elections happened on Wednesday, June 13 and the results are in! Director of Day Services, Adria Wiggins, has this to say:

Over the last few weeks our candidates used their creativity to develop their campaign strategies. They created signs/posters, met with their peers and, of course, offered them some treats (for example, Jell-O, freeze pops, etc.). Ballots were cast today. Our individuals had the opportunity to select the candidates of their choice with some visual supports and assistance from staff. 

Hi-Hope staff prepared for the elections well in advance to make the experience interactive and to simulate an authentic election experience. For example, individuals cast their votes in a ballot box and received an "I voted for Hi-Hope Council" sticker when they finished (a special thanks to volunteer Maureen for creating the stickers).

Communication Support Shari Durand issued the following summary after the elections:

This year we had 23 candidates: 10 for President, 6 for Vice President, 2 for Secretary, 3 for Treasurer and 2 for Sargent-at-Arms. On May 18, 2018 we held the Client Council interest meeting and after explaining the different offices to the group, the facilitators noted which individuals wanted to run for a special office. The following 3.5 weeks were full of campaigning and learning about the electoral process. On June 13, 2018, the elections were held. Individuals were provided with ballots, large pictures, communication devices and time to make their selection. 74 separate ballots, 326 individual votes/choices were made and completed... It was a great turn out, with every individual making choices from among their peers!

The title of this blog entry is "the results are in..." and indeed they are. Without further ado, here are the election results:

President - Robyn J.

Vice President - Natalie F.

Secretary - Amanda H.

Treasurer - Donna W.

Sargent-at-Arms - Jim P.

Congratulations to all the winners and their opponents who participated in the process. Everyone should be proud of their efforts and take pleasure in knowing that they brought the beauty and elegance of a fair and honest democratic election to life at Hi-Hope. Three cheers for everyone involved. Hip hip hooray...

It's Election Time at Hi-Hope

To quote the great radio DJ Chris Stevens:

Well, I just wanna applaud y'all for plunging headfirst into the great river of democracy. I mean, our election is just a small tributary. You know, a singular thread in the greater fabric, linked by tradition, love, and honor to the swift, clear, bracing waters from which our traditions are founded. But I'm just saying, let's take a little time out here to slap ourselves on the back, give a kiss on the cheek, a hale and hearty fare-thee-well to all our fine noble...citizens.

Chris' enthusiasm is totally justified. Not matter how big or how small the election, participating in a vote for a representative is an important thing. It speaks to the heart of choice - in privacy and security the elector makes a decision that will directly impact their community and, in doing so, they set the wheels of fate in motion [we should probably note that the author of this blog post is particular fond of elections]. It is with great pride that Hi-Hope announces the start of it campaign season and its very own upcoming elections.

Starting on Monday, June 11th, 2018 and ending on Thursday, June 14th at 1:00 PM, a very important voting process will occur at Hi-Hope. The individuals will democratically select their next Client Council - a group of elected representatives that will serve their peers for a two year term.

The purpose of the Client Council is to give Hi-Hope individuals an opportunity to develop leadership and learn about advocacy. The members will do this by assisting with and participating in activities and service projects at Hi-Hope and the community at large. The members contribute to and promote the Hi-Hope mission and vision and serve as representatives for their peers. They share ideas, interests and concerns with Hi-Hope staff and leadership. Below is a list of the individuals running for each office (please note: candidates are still signing up and this list does not represent the final ballot):

PRESIDENT

  • David B.
  • Patsy R.
  • Justin R.
  • Bruce P.
  • Terri N.
  • Carl B.
  • Robyn J.
  • Dan T.

VICE PRESIENT

  • Demarie N.
  • Marty P.

SECRETARY

  • Leslie H.
  • Amanda H.

SARGENT AT ARMS

  • Teiylea "TY" D.

TREASURER

  • Desiree H.
  • Eric V.
  • Donna W.

MEMEBERS-AT-LARGE

  • Lisa P.
  • Brittany T.
  • Marian T.
  • Kent G.
  • Kimberly M.
  • Betty P.
  • Kayla D.
  • Joel J.
  • Mark C.
  • Kristen D.
  • Kendra M.

There will be more to come as the individual campaigns come to life and the election takes place; unfolding in beautiful expressions of free and fair choice. Stay tuned!

One Of Those Little Things

If you follow Hi-Hope on Facebook, you may have had the opportunity to peruse the most recent photo album, dedicated to a visit by a group of 8th graders from Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) that happened last Friday. The album shows students engaging in several different activities with the individuals we support at Hi-Hope. In true GACS fashion, the day was over-the-top fantastic – filled with fun and activity. The pictures in the album capture the "essence" of the day, however, one picture is a little misleading. The volunteer in it is not a GACS student.

A few days before the visit, the 8th Grade Service Day coordinator from GACS contacted Hi-Hope to see if it was OK to bring an additional person. This person was the younger sister of a student and the daughter of a mom and dad chaperone team. The girl was given the all clear and came the day of the event. As the activities started, the 8th graders jumped right in, but this young lady held back, staying close to her mom. She seemed a little nervous, although, she was definitely interested in participating. 

About an hour into the festivities, Volunteer Coordinator Nick Reynolds noticed something special happening at one of the activity stations and took the picture this article is highlighting. The girl had overcome her nervousness and approach Troy to help. This is special because Troy is quiet and volunteers often overlook him. He doesn't say much to guests and it's possible that some folks are intimidated by the helmet he wears as a safety precaution. All that being said, out of all the people in the room that day, this young lady decided to bond with Troy and spent quite a while helping him with activities. It was a particularly special act of kindness in a room full good deeds. We wanted to use this blog post to highlight this young lady and commend her for overcoming her shyness and connecting with Troy that day. It was sweet and genuine and wonderful. It was one of those little things that make all the difference.