September 24, 2004 > Hopeconnections: Working Together for a Better Community
Hopeconnections: Working Together for a Better Community
by Susana Nuñez
It began as a generous act from a Math teacher for struggling students whose difficulties in school were rooted in financial challenges at home. Now, Hopeconnections has evolved into a full-fledged organization dedicated to serving citizens of the East Bay. From Fremont to Berkeley, the Hopeconnections Club has been helping those in need for over 4 years. Since 1999, the Club has reached out to over 400 New Haven Unified School District families.
"As a teacher, I believe I am not only part of the school, but a part of the community," says club founder and James Logan High School math teacher Linda Rodrigues. When a few of her students became aware of her service to the community, they decided to form a club to support her efforts. The Hopeconnections Club has now branched out to every school in the New Haven Unified School District - elementary to high school. Through these connections, information about families in need reaches members and support is provided.
Club contributions to the community may include raising funds for food certificates and/or gifts for children. During one of their most successful winter seasons, various classes, schools, staff members, and groups adopted 93 families. "The club's mission is to serve the community without expecting [anything] in return," states Mrs. Rodrigues. These "adopted" families received a $100 food certificate, food, clothing and gifts.
Besides fundraising activities, one of the club's biggest contributions comes in the form of gift baskets. Each basket includes shampoo, toothpaste, soap, and a toothbrush, wrapped in a towel and a washcloth. The Club distributes these "hygiene baskets" to seven homeless shelters in Fremont, Oakland, and Berkeley and transitional housing residents of Harrison, Dellums and Oaks hotels in Oakland and UA, Harris and MLK in Berkeley.
This year, Logan's Hopeconnections Club President Victoria McDonald has worked with Mrs. Rodrigues and fellow club members to organize several fundraising events. The year is off to a good start with the completion of a successful bake sale, and a canned food drive is scheduled for December 6th - 16th. Students and volunteers working with Homeconnections have demonstrated their will and ability to follow the spirit of Ms. Rodriguez' original vision summed up by a Mission Statement which reads, "We are students dedicated to serving our community. It is our desire to bring Hope to those who are struggling, to bring Love to those who are hurting and to bring Encouragement to those who are discouraged."
Hopeconnections is currently in need of regular size shampoo and regular size toothpaste for a hygiene basket delivery to Sunrise Shelter in Fremont on November 13. Donations can be dropped off at James Logan High School. To learn more about Hopeconnections, log onto www.everyschool.org/u/logan/hopeconnections.