2015 is a year of milestones. 35 years for Community of Hope and now 25 years for a very special partnership we are pleased to be a part of.
For 25 years, Global Harmony Through Personal Excellence has provided homeless families at Community of Hope the opportunity to bring holiday cheer to the elderly residents of the Stoddard Baptist Global Care at Washington Center for Aging Services.
Last Saturday, homeless children and adults left their temporary homes at our transitional housing program and emergency shelter and climbed aboard a bus. Riding high above the other traffic, the littlest children watched the DC sites and neighborhoods pass. Mothers counted the cards they had brought along to give out to the seniors. Volunteers asked which Christmas carol the children wanted to sing first.
They piled off the bus and into the halls of the nursing home, eyes wide at the new location. Each child was given red, green and glittery bells and thick songbooks full of holiday classics. With muffins and juice in their bellies, they strolled the halls singing “Deck the Halls”, “Jingle Bells” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain”!
The wizened faces of the nursing home residents lit up as little cherub faces of children, ages 1 to 16, handed them cards and smiled.
Some residents danced. Others sang along. All had a merry time.
After an hour of singing, the buses filled again and the families – now beaming with holiday cheer – traveled to a holiday lunch at the home of the event’s driving force – Dodie and Jim Brady. They would soon be stuffed with ham, macaroni and cheese, salad, green beans, spinach lasagna and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They’d share the joys of the day and, this year, the adults would be inspired by a woman just like them with a powerful story of her recovery from drugs and homelessness to a Master’s degree and stable job. After nearly six hours, they would leave with arms full of gifts, each carefully wrapped.
For months, Dodie had been planning this day, working with Community of Hope staff to sign families up for the event and get the children’s wishlists. Just the week before, her house was filled with the constant bustle of her elves – friends and family who have volunteered for years to bring this event to life. From the logistics of the bus, to the baking of cookies and ensuring that each gift had enough ribbons, dozens of volunteers spent hundreds of hours on this moment.
Multiplying that effort by 25 years is a mind-blowing exercise. Community of Hope and the hundreds of mothers, fathers and children in our programs over the years are incredibly appreciative of Dodie and Jim, Jessica, Rebecca, Anita, Ann, Carolyn, Steve, Lisa and the many, many other volunteers who have made the opportunity to serve possible.
In her own words, Dodie shares that this event is built on the principle that everyone has something to give to others regardless of which quadrant of the city or economic status.
You have given generously to us. Thank you!