Consistent, Positive HOPE
On a typical Thursday afternoon after school at The Townhomes at Double Creek in Round Rock, the clubhouse is full of high-pitched laughter and conversations about everything from cute boys to glittery nail polish.
However, on this particular day, a dozen young girls have quieted their giggles and all eyes are the supervisor of TBCH’s HOPE program as he leads them in a Bible study.
In the corner, 15-year-old Erica listens intently, nodding her head and following along in her own Bible. She’s been involved in the HOPE program since its inception nearly eight years ago and can testify to the impact it’s had on her life and the lives of her friends.
“HOPE has completely changed my life,” she says. “It’s truly given me hope when I needed it most.”
The HOPE (Healthy Opportunities that Protect and Empower) program serves children and families through apartment ministries in the Round Rock community, establishing and building positive, nurturing relationships with the children who attend.
Made up of a “Kids Club” for elementary-age children and “Youth Leadership” for middle and high school students, HOPE does more than just occupy bored kids who are looking for something to do after school. It provides a consistent, positive influence in the lives of the kids and works with their parents to help improve family dynamics.
“We do all kinds of fun things and activities with the kids,” says the program coordinator. “Anything from having Christmas parties at the clubhouse to loading the kids up and taking them to church. They love going to church.”
Erica began coming to weekly HOPE activities with a friend when she was 8 years old. “I just knew there was something different about coming here. The leaders really cared about me and my family,” she says. “I knew I mattered to someone here and started to learn that I mattered to Jesus, too.”
As Erica grew older, she began to encounter difficult circumstances at school. In the fifth grade, she was bullied for being different and began to fall into a deep depression. “I had thoughts of suicide every day and was just so depressed. I just didn’t really care to live anymore,” Erica confesses.
It was during that time that she attended a local church service with other kids and staff from the program and heard a sermon about hope. It helped her to realize that she did have something to live for and that the Lord was in control.
“I’m really thankful for the leaders who care about us enough to take us to church,” she said. “HOPE literally saved my life.”
Two of Erica’s closest friends in the program, sisters Kara and Leanna, also testify to the ways that HOPE has enriched their lives.
“It’s a lot like a family,” says Kara. “My leader is like a big sister that I can go to about anything. During the summers, we get to know everyone on a deeper level. By the end it’s really like we’ve known them for years.”
“I love the one-on-one time we get with the leaders. They really want to know us and what’s going on in our lives,” says Leanna.
In the times when their families haven’t had enough food or have needed help with their finances, the HOPE program has been able to meet the needs of the kids and families it serves. But the generosity hasn’t been lost on Erica.
“I know HOPE has helped me and my family out when we’ve needed it, but I don’t want it to end there. I want to serve others in the same way,” Erica says. When she outgrows clothes or when her family has more than enough food in the pantry, they donate back to the program. “My hope is that other kids will be impacted in return.”
As Erica looks to the future, she dreams of graduating and going to college nearby. “I want to stick around and continue helping out with HOPE, even when I graduate,” she says. “Seeing the younger kids who come, I want to help make an impact in their lives so they know there really is hope and someone cares.”