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
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
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.
Jeff & Glind
Circles match to lifelong friends
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!