20 Years; 20 Stories

Here at Heights of Hope, cultivating relationships is a key part of our mission. Here are 20 relationships over the past 20 years that were forged in the SOAR neighborhood. These 20 stories represent hundreds of others to celebrate. 

D-niya & Priscilla

From Brain Boost tutoring to now an official Kids Hope mentoring match

Priscilla is our newest staff member and jumped right into our summer programs, which included teaching second grade Brain Boost through the Blacktop Rec program at Calvary on 8th. That’s where she met D-niya, and immediately their fun-loving personalities connected. This fall, Priscilla and D-niya reconnected at Holland Heights Elementary School and now they get to have lunch together once a week and continue to build their friendship by being matched together through Kids Hope mentoring. With this friendship, both D-niya and Priscilla have continued to connect to talk about life and Priscilla often gets schooled by D-niya’s quick wit and smart observations of the world! 

Dian & Marlene

A neighborhood friendship that started as 5k volunteers

Marlene and Dian met years ago when they volunteered at a water station for one of the first HOH 5Ks. Over the years they have both been active members of our SOAR leadership team, contributing ideas and a helping hand. Years later, it’s been a joy to see this friendship continue.

Wasana & Tracey

Neighbors turned friends turned HOH co-workers

Wasana and Tracey have known each other since the early days of Heights of Hope's presence in the community. Together they hosted early neighborhood meetings in their two bedroom apartments and organized neighborhood beautification days from their front yards. Over the years they have been a part of many exciting changes and growing opportunities in the neighborhood, but the one thing that has remained steady and unchanged is their foundation of friendship.

Laura & Crystal

Neighbors for 12 years and a friendship that survived fire

We're so thankful God brought us together as upstairs/downstairs neighbors 12 years ago. Since then, we’ve been each other’s go to people when cars have died and we need a ride, taken each other's garbage cans out (whoever gets to them first), and celebrated most birthdays together! Crystal even takes our dog out anytime I can’t make it home in time, which makes us forever indebted to her! 

In 2022, we had an apartment fire and both lost everything, including the joy and comfort of being neighbors. Through the huge outpouring of love from our community, lots of patience, and the miracle of open apartments at the right time and a thoughtful landlord, we’re so grateful to say that we’re now neighbors again right down the road from where we once met. We continue to learn together the meaning and power of AGAPE love! 

Alexis & Mandy

From neighbors to mother and daughter

Alexis and her Dad moved into the apartment building next to mine when she was in the 7th grade. She and my Son Zach became fast friends and she loved playing with our baby, Luke. 

When her dad had to move across the country unexpectedly and quickly, it was devastating to us all. After talking things over with my husband Tim and many prayers, we decided to offer to have her come live with us. We had absolutely no idea how we could make it work, but we knew this was what God was telling us to do. 

Through the generosity of Calvary on 8th, we were able to move into the house on Havard just a few months after Alexis came back so she could have her own room and we could try to find some sort of normalcy. We had a daughter! 

While all of this was beautiful, it was not a fairy tale. It was hard, for all of us, trying to figure it all out. For Alexis, trusting that we were here for the good, the bad, and everything in-between. That we would love her unconditionally, no matter what. For my boys, a new big sister was fun and exciting, but also changed the dynamics of our family.  For me and my husband, trying to figure out how to raise a daughter, how to set healthy boundaries and how to keep our family strong through it all.  Looking back, there's some things that I would change, just because I was still learning as a parent, but I would never change bringing Alexis into our home.  She is our daughter, forever. 

Alexis is now a mother herself! She and her partner Mateo gave us our beautiful grandson Donio in 2022 and a granddaughter coming soon! We are grandparents for the first time! Zach and Luke absolutely love being uncles too!

She is a strong and beautiful woman, an amazing mother and we are so incredibly proud of her!

Jeff & Glind

Circles match to lifelong friends


I first met Mr. King at Circles. We (with Ron) became the three amigos. He’s a wonderful guy and I took a likin’ to his whole family. It’s way different when you meet someone else and you bring them in - they bring you in - and be real close to them as a family.

They just don’t know how they brighten my day when I see them. And Mr. King, he’s very understanding and if you have a problem, he will sit and talk to you about that. I can open up to him because that’s how much trust we have. Thank you Lord

Mr. Brown is right - Circles allowed us the space to build mutual trust…which neither of us take lightly, and is something that one earns bit by bit over time. We’ve enjoyed many laughs and tears together and always enjoy the times we share (which often include Mr. Brown’s cooking!)

Stephanie & Alice

Neighbors with a shared love of food led to joining a monthly cooking club and becoming garden partners

Stephanie and Alice met at a SOAR meeting last spring where we were talking about the Community Garden at Calvary on 8th. They teamed up to share a plot where Stephanie brought an eagerness to learn and a willingness to do most of the on the ground work and Alice brought knowledge and experience. They made a great pair and their garden was prolific! Since then they have volunteered together at our 5K and have joined a monthly cooking club. Here’s a bit of what they have to say about one another: 


I’ve gotten to know Stephanie to be a loving, kind, helpful, genuine and selfless person who always thinks of others before herself. I’m so happy to call her my friend! 


Alice is an incredible friend who I’ve enjoyed getting to know through our gardening days and beyond. She has taught me so much from her experience and when we are together time passes so quickly. We have bonded through gardening, our love of food, and travel. She is always there to lend a helping hand, I know I can always count on her to be down for an adventure and I hope there are many more to come!”

Justine & Karyl

Circles brought them together and they continue to show up for one another


Karyl, she ‘goes there’ with me and will call me out every time because she cares and knows I need it. I often get stuck in my ways and she sees me and still loves me for it. She is one of the few people I believe when she says I’m made for more, that there’s a whole big world out there. Right up there with Mrs. Whiteman.


Justine has a remarkable sense of humor and has helped me through a time that I had no idea how to function without help. Justine shares her love, humor, support and encouragement during the ups and downs of life. We share a love of Maverick City Music and a quirky way of thriving despite life’s challenges.

Shane & Karen

Paired through Youth Leadership Coalition's internship program and had a blast working together

One of our favorite parts of Youth Leadership Coalition is getting to pair the students with an internship in our community to have what’s often their first work experience (and even get paid for it!). When we’re looking for internship supervisors, we’re looking for not only people who can teach job skills, but also act as mentors to the youth. 

Karen is one of those people! She volunteers regularly at the Community Action House Food Club and jumped at the chance to take Shane under her wing. Yes, Shane learned about showing up on time, following instructions, and how to properly smash cardboard boxes, but Karen relished his joy and enthusiasm just as much. She said he had the distinct knack of making any task seem like a fun game!

Jeff & Tina

Long-time neighbors, now middle school Spanish teacher and student

It’s fun when connections in the neighborhood expand to other spheres of life. Fun fact: Tina is already bilingual, but signed up for Spanish 1 as an elective because she’s excited to learn more languages. 

Jan & Allisa

What started as a mentoring relationship is now family

Here's a video we made about their match seven years ago! Now Allisa is at college at Cornerstone University, but she still calls Jan and Lloyd's house home! 

Lauren & Cheyenne

Explosion teacher inspired orchestra involvement

Over the past 13 years of Explosion, we’ve had 102 different creative arts and skills building classes. Lauren and Cheyenne represent just one connection of the thousands that have happened here as new skills have been taught, creativity released, and confidence empowered. So many students and adults have found new hobbies or joined teams or clubs from the relationships built at Explosion.

Becky & Aaron

Two young tutoring volunteers fell in love at HOH programs and are still committed to our neighborhood

Back in 2007, Becky and Aaron were just friendly volunteers trying to get to know some pretty fantastic neighborhood kids. By 2009, they both lived in the neighborhood, and through getting to play with neighbors, working at programs together, and friends nudging them in the right direction, the pair moved from friendship to dating and eventually got married with half of the neighborhood there to celebrate, including 18 flower girls who were all dear neighbors. Now, 12 years into their marriage, the SOAR neighborhood is still one of their favorite places to be, and it gets credit often for being the beginning of their family’s story in many ways. Although they no longer live there as their growing family sadly outgrew the 2 bedroom apartments, their whole family tries to stay involved in the apartment neighborhood and the work that Heights of Hope is doing as best as they can. They love watching their own kids now play in the neighborhood, celebrate the gifts of neighbors, and are starting to love the community there as much as they do.

Julie & Glorious

Beloved teacher still connecting with her students in our neighborhood

The bond between 2nd grade teachers and their students can be a strong one, especially when you have Mrs. Vroon, the teacher who brings you home baked cookies, brings crafts that aren’t just from Oriental Trading, isn’t afraid of glitter, and makes personal connections with your whole family! 


I’ll never forget Glorious’ creativity and thoughtfulness. She would often bring me sweet notes and one time came in with a whole poster she had made for me. Glorious always cared about everybody. I love that I still get to see her and her family at HOH activities in the neighborhood. 

Mason, Michael & Jack

Our most committed WHOA! kids are still friends today

One of the very first youth activities in the neighborhood was called WHOA!, a summer fitness program where we did all sorts of sports and running. Anyone who was involved in those early years will remember these three boys who were our fastest runners, but also game for anything and kind to the younger kids. Imagine our surprise when, years later, we’re sent a picture from one of their weddings with those three boys, now all grown up and still standing up for one another!

Zach & Ron

From close to ten years, "grandpa" is the best way to describe who Ron is to Zach

Zach has always seen things through a cinematic perspective. He loves movies and that’s what he likes to do, whether he’s sad or happy. Years ago there was a movie he really wanted to see, but didn’t have anyone to go with at first. When Ron went with him, that was the beginning of a sweet relationship and Ron has been like a grandpa figure in his life ever since. 

Whether it’s going to the movies, or when they used to get a bite to eat at Steak ‘n Shake and would measure Zach on the way out or now when Ron gives Zach a ride to work, Ron loves that when they say goodbye Zach always gives him a hug and tells him he loves him… just like a grandson. 

Edgar & Michael

Matched as a mentoring pair in 2014 and still hanging out to this day

In 2015, we made this video about Michael and Edgar because we thought they were so great! Now in 2023, they are no longer an official “mentoring match”, but get together regularly because they’re now life-long friends! 

Kelly, Sue, Bri & Amber

Sue and Kelly's mentor match quickly grew to include Briana and Amber is all for it


Sue is like a grandma to my kids. First she was matched with Kelly, but then one time Bri went along and she just kept going with them. It’s so good for them, especially Bri with her separation anxiety. It gives her the opportunity with Sue. She’s the only one Bri will go with because she got so comfortable with her. There’s a bond there that’s so strong. 


When my daughter got married and I moved out I was concerned how much I was going to miss doing things with her, because we spent a lot of time together. God slipped Kelly into my life and then Bri and now I have them to enjoy the same things I enjoyed with my daughter.

These kids feel like family to me. Soon after Kelly and I began our visits, we were at McDonalds and a worker referred to me as her grandma. She was so mad she refused to go there for a long time. Recently we were at Bob Evans and the server called me grandma. The girls and I looked at each other and we all laughed. That warmed my heart that it no longer bothers her.

Kim & Joni

Through a connection at Circles, Joni applied for a job at C.A.M.P. last summer and it was an awesome fit

Joni was part of our third Circles Cohort. During that time, she began volunteering on Wednesday nights at Calvary to earn credit at the HOH Christmas Store. A year later, when Joni was looking for a summer job, she learned of an opening at Calvary’s CAMP daycare program through various connections through Circles and Kids Club. Needless to say, Joni got the job and we don’t know who loved it more: CAMP or Joni. It’s been fun hearing people at CAMP talk about how much they loved having Joni on staff. 


I truly enjoyed playing, reading to, and just talking with the preschool students. Each of them were so different, but they made my heart so happy and full of joy. Even when they had their off days, I had the privilege of making them smile and hearing all of their investing stories. I can't say there was ever a day that I didn’t like being there.

Anja, Cora, Edie, Leya & Kami

Their parents were matched as part of Circles, but the kids' bond was just as strong

The Circles Youth Program includes all sorts of intentional learning about leadership skills and strong voices, but one of the great joys of this past cohort was watching the sweet friendship grow between the students!

This crew developed a strong friendship and became creative leaders. For example, they made a pet shop play and they helped younger kids get excited about our activities. Their love for Circle’s Youth and for one another may have even been the driving factor in making sure their parents came - even on the snowy nights!