Last week was something special at Hi-Hope thanks to the annual occurrence of Perimeter Church's Rush Conference. You can learn more about the conference at the website listed at the end of this post, but in essence it is a student lead and attended conference that involves seminars, small group meetings, service projects and a whole lot more. Hi-Hope has been extremely fortunate to be one of the service project locations several times. Over the course of the three day conference, different groups visit Hi-Hope every day to help in whatever way they can and this year has been absolutely awesome. 

Each day the student groups spent their first hour socializing with the individuals we support. They seamlessly join into outdoor activities like basketball, walking, drawing and reviewing Pokemon guidebooks (yes, a very specific bonding opportunity). Afterward they were tasked with some seriously laborious stuff - namely the laying of mulch in front of our building in direct sunlight in 95 degree heat (don't worry, we had lots of water, salty snacks and AC breaks readily available). The saving grace was that the groups were from Mississippi, Florida and Virginia and none seemed particularly put off by the weather. Meanwhile, Minnesota-native Volunteer Coordinator Nick Reynolds cowered in the shade and still managed to sweat through his clothes. While the first two groups did the mulch, the third tackled the monumental task of sorting through the materials stored in the old Department of Transportation buildings in preparation for the next phase of our campus upgrade.

Why have them do all this? Partially because our individuals were only here for part of the time they came to serve (the first hour). It is always a priority to let volunteers interact with our folks because those relationships are crucial to fulfilling our mission of offering integrated opportunities for learning, work and leisure. The second reason is that this type of stuff ALWAYS gets done faster and better when volunteers are involved. The third reason is that it directly contributes to our ability to provide quality support by giving our folks an aesthetically pleasing environment to spend time. Finally, our campus upgrade can't move forward without prepping the DOT buildings.

So, these young folks directly contributed to virtually all aspects of what we do - they served our individuals, they improved our facilities and they prepared us to move forward with our upgrade. You have to love when something like this happens, especially when it involves young folks. In fact, on day when we were laying mulch a woman approached Nick and asked what was going on. When she learned about the project, she remarked "isn't it beautiful to see young folks doing something positive for the community. It makes me so happy. It's such a good thing." Well said.

To learn more about Rush, please visit