Service and community engagement are in the DNA of Boys Hope Girls Hope. Scholars across the Boys Hope Girls Hope Network complete hundreds of hours of community service each year, and are encouraged to reflect on what it means to be “people for others.” However, it has become difficult for affiliates to conduct regular community service during the Covid-19 pandemic. Most in-person volunteer opportunities have been canceled, and online options are limited.
One affiliate decided to think outside of the box. With scholars missing in-person service and burnt out from virtual learning, Cincinnati Program Director, Ming Toy Cardwell decided it was time to switch it up.
Boys Hope Girls Hope of Cincinnati operates three residential homes and serves up to 22 scholars. Cardwell tasked her team to develop innovative ways to engage the young people.
“We had to figure out ways to keep the scholars involved in community service,” said Caldwell.
The team reached out to various local organizations to find ways to get scholars involved.
The affiliate team partnered with a local nonprofit to package candy for their Trunk or Treat party. They also baked cookies and made cards for residents of a nearby nursing home.
The most creative idea they came up with was making dog food. The scholars looked up recipes, made and packaged the food in their homes, and donated it to the local Humane Society.
“The scholars were really excited about this,” said Caldwell. “We donated the food to the Cincinnati SPCA.”
Recently, scholars visited the nursing home to build snowmen outside the residents’ windows.
“The residents liked it,” said Caldwell. “They miss seeing the kids in person but still appreciate that we are still thinking of them.”
Caldwell decided that it was essential to continue community service to improve the mental health of the team and scholars.