Program highlight: HOPE for Kids

This guest post is courtesy of Fran Longton, HOPE for Kids program director at HOPE (House of Peace and Education, Inc.) in Gardner. Fran answered some questions from Mass Mentoring regarding her program and its 2012 National Mentoring Month events. HOPE is again a program partner for the 2013 National Mentoring Month initiative in January.

  1. What is your role at the organization? Please give us some information about your program.
    I am the HOPE for Kids Program Director at the House of Peace & Education, Inc. (HOPE) a non-profit agency in Gardner, MA. HOPE was founded in 1996 by four sisters of St. Joseph, an order of Catholic sisters from Holyoke, and has expanded and evolved over time to a community agency. Our mission is “HOPE empowers women and children to believe in themselves, to learn new skills and to use those skills to live their best possible lives.” HOPE has two programs to carry forward our mission of helping low-income women and at-risk children. HOPE for Women is a computer and jobs skills training program serving income qualified women. HOPE for Kids serves more than 150 children in grades K-8 in three after-school programs and a summer program.  Mentoring is at the core of both HOPE programs and is a vital aspect of the success of our participants.
  2. Why is mentoring important?
    In the HOPE for Kids program, mentoring is an essential element of our programs. Staff and volunteers provide positive role modeling, encouragement and support in addition to tutoring services for our participants. Many of our participants receive the extra “T.L.C.” from their mentors that is sometimes lacking at home. The mentors provide not only academic support, but the positive interactions that promote healthy development in the children. The mentors fill a critical role in carrying out the HOPE mission and are highly valued members of our team.
  3. What did your program do to celebrate National Mentoring Month 2012?
    HOPE for Kids staff organized a volunteer appreciation night, “It’s All About You” to recognize our dedicated mentors. Guests shared a lasagna dinner from a local caterer and a variety of homemade desserts. Gift bags with small tokens of appreciation, including book marks provided by MMP were place at each table setting. The event enabled volunteers from the different components of the HOPE for Kids program to get acquainted with each other and staff. Mentors were recognized individually with the presentation of certificates of appreciation. The local newspaper covered our event and the article was on the front page the following day!
  4. What was the outcome of your event?
    The event was enjoyed by all attendees and it was a great night! 28 of 40 volunteers were able to attend, along with our interim director and our five HOPE for Kids staff members. Thank you to MMP for giving HOPE the opportunity to recognize our mentors with a special event.
  5. How people can get in touch for additional information? HOPE has a website: www.hopegardner.org or they may email me, Fran Longton: flongton@hopegardner.org or call: 978-630-4752, ext. 30.