Mentoring: At Heights of Hope, we believe firmly that positive mentoring relationships can be mutually transforming for both the mentor and mentee. Currently our mentoring program has about 35 positive, caring adults in long-term matches with youth from our neighborhood. Mentors commit to meeting once a week with their mentee, and our staff is continuously providing tons of support, along with fun, free activities for mentoring matches! Mentors can access the list of Mentor Discount Activities here: Mentor Card Discount List
Circles: Heights of Hope is partnering with Good Samaritan Ministries to offer this national program, designed to empower and equip families to move out of poverty and thrive. The 18-month program starts with training and equipping leaders from our neighborhood who identify their strengths and create long term goals. Leaders are then each matched with two to three allies from our neighborhood and greater community, who come alongside them to offer support and encouragement. This method is intentionally relationship and community driven and rooted in the belief that the responsibility for both poverty and prosperity rests not only in the hands of individuals, but also with societies, institutions, and communities. To learn more in depth about the program, check out the Circles USA webpage.
Youth Leadership Coalition: YLC was born out of the need for positive, empowering summer programming for students who are too old for children’s programming in our neighborhood, but too young to have their own jobs yet. It is a 10 week program designed to give 8th-11th graders opportunities to explore their strengths and leadership potential, learn job readiness skills, volunteer in the community, and build relationships with other ambitious youth. YLC functions like a job and participants fill out applications and go through an interview process to be selected, then punch in and out each day with a time card. They also earn a small stipend every two weeks.
Neighborhood Cleanups: Several times throughout the year, members of SOAR and Heights of Hope organize neighborhood wide cleanups, inviting residents to take advantage of dumpsters to get rid of large unwanted items, and to pick up trash. Once a year we also provide free flowers for residents to liven up their yards, mailboxes, and porches!
The Christmas Store: Families from our neighborhood have the opportunity to earn “credit” at our Christmas Store through volunteer hours. The credit can then be used to shop at the store, which is set up like a real store and stocked with new items for their children and loved ones. Children also have the opportunity to work to earn credit in order to shop for their parents.
Brain Boost: Each summer, many of the children from our neighborhood attend Blacktop Rec, a free day camp held at Calvary Church on 8th Street. Heights of Hope is committed to providing an hour of quality small group tutoring each day to keep kids’ brains boosted throughout the summer and combat summer slide.
Adventure League and the Heights of Hope 5k and 1.5 Mile Run/Walk: In the summer of 2017, we changed from doing our decade-long summer fitness program for kids called WHOA to hosting an evening family fitness program we like to call “Adventure League”. Each week, families get together for a healthy, home-cooked meal prepared by the group, followed by a family-friendly fitness activity like a scavenger hunt through VanRaalte, a taekwondo lesson from Master Chan’s, a hike to the beach, or slip n’ slide kickball. Like WHOA, participants can still earn a brand new pair of running shoes. Not only are families encouraged to play and be active together, but they have the opportunity to connect with other families from our community and build relationships that often go beyond Thursday nights. The program still ends with the exciting Heights of Hope 5k and 1.5 mile races in the middle of August, where inspiring moments are always aplenty!
Explosion: A community arts program designed to allow youth and adults the opportunity to explore their creative gifts and develop new skills. Students choose a class from a variety of options (cooking, woodworking, theatre, photography, etc.) and over the course of ten weeks work with teachers from our neighborhood and our partner churches to explore their creativity and learn new skills. The session ends with an exhibition where the students are able to display their talents for their families and friends.
The Eastside Food Pantry: The Eastside Food pantry currently serves over 300 families from the Holland Heights Community. It is located in the basement of Calvary Reformed Church, and is supported by all of our partner churches. The food pantry is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10-11:30 and Fridays from 3-4:30, and families are able to use it every two weeks. We are also in partnership with Feeding America West Michigan.
While many of our programs and activities are strong and well run, perhaps our greatest initiative is our desire to build healthy, positive relationships with people in our community. We want to become good neighbors and friends, people that can be trusted and leaned on during difficult times, as well as rejoice together in good times. We want to empower people to use the wonderful talents that God has given them, but that the world often ignores. And most of all, we want every person we come in contact with to know that they are valued and loved.