SRC's HOPE graduation uplifting reminder of achievement

At the recent graduation, HOPE students radiated joy and pride at their accomplishment. In the first row (l-r) are: Shondelle Browne, Angela Taft, Sara Tewolde and Dannisha Osadebe. In the second row (l-r) are: Brigitte Cogswell-Payne, educational trainer, Shaniece Lewis and Valrie Naughty. In the last row (l-r) are: Cherie Gordino, Doe Haywood, Melva Murrell, Ashli James, Nathaniel Serrano and Melissa Jones.
At the recent graduation, HOPE students radiated joy and pride at their accomplishment. In the first row (l-r) are: Shondelle Browne, Angela Taft, Sara Tewolde and Dannisha Osadebe. In the second row (l-r) are: Brigitte Cogswell-Payne, educational trainer, Shaniece Lewis and Valrie Naughty. In the last row (l-r) are: Cherie Gordino, Doe Haywood, Melva Murrell, Ashli James, Nathaniel Serrano and Melissa Jones.

Since 1996, the Saint Raphael Campus has championed a program called HOPE — Having an Opportunity to Prepare for Employment — for women and men in the community whose road to employment has had its bumps and potholes.

HOPE is a four-month program that brings in its students as volunteers and matches them with hospital mentors. For 24-30 hours per week, the students volunteer and go to class where they sharpen their skills and set academic goals — which can include completing their high school education and earning a GED. They also work closely with mentors while they learn about jobs in the healthcare setting.

"Our students have endured and overcome incredible hurdles," said Doe Haywood, manager of the program since 1999. "Our goal is to prepare HOPE students for employment so they can achieve financial stability. In 17 years, 380 students have completed the program and many have successfully obtained employment in a variety of settings, including the hospital."

HOPE classes average 10-15 students; the most recent class graduated 11. One HOPE graduate who is now an operating room assistant on the SRC graduated in 2009.

"I heard about HOPE at church when Mrs. Haywood came to speak about the program," recalls Jeanette Roseboro, who volunteered in Food Services during her HOPE training. "I wanted the opportunity to work and I applied. It is one of the smartest things I ever did and knew it would change my life — and it has."

"At the HOPE graduations, it is very humbling to hear the stories of perseverance and survival that the students share with us," said Lynelle Abel, associate director, Volunteer Services, which is responsible for the program. "HOPE provides a compass to students and helps them take control of their lives and make positive changes. HOPE helps them re-write their own life stories."