A year ago, more than 500 people gathered for the ribbon cutting of the Reeb Avenue Center. Dignitaries from the mayor to the leaders of social service organizations spoke of the aspirations of creating a “Hub of hope” in a long neglected neighborhood.
Yesterday, more than 500 people gathered to celebrate the first anniversary of the Reeb Avenue Center. Community members of diverse backgrounds, ages, and races lived out the aspiration of being a “Hub of hope” in an emerging community.
Typically, we may think of non-profits agencies as the deliverers of hope. It is easy to see those who provide jobs, resources to overcome addiction, and healthy food as the ones who create hope. However, last night I was reminded that hope is not something given to others, but hope already exists and comes from those who we think we have come to serve.
At the anniversary celebration, I saw hope in a man who has gotten clean in the last month. His long beard was shaved, his unkempt hair was clean, his clouded eyes were clear. He looked like a different person and stood at the front of the food line helping to serve. He looked like hope.
I saw hope in the joy of children who decorated pumpkins, played corn hole, and ran with joy. These children looked like hope.
I heard it in the story of a young woman from the neighborhood who shared with me the work she does in the LGBT and HIV communities. After I heard all of the different things she is doing to help others I asked her what led her to this work. Six years ago she contracted HIV. Instead of being overcome with anger or bitterness, she is giving her life to help others. She is hope.
Hope is not found in a program, no matter how well designed.
Hope is not found in a brochure, no matter how well created.
Hope is not found in the service I deliver, no matter how well intentioned.
Hope is found in the desire within every person to be fully alive, in the dignity of service, and in the wisdom of the community.
The South Side of Columbus IS a Hub of Hope.