Community of Hope Group Mentoring Program
Cuyahoga County has a mentoring program run by Community of Hope, designed for young adults aged 18-27, who leave foster care. Approximately 120+ youth each year leave foster care in Cleveland and they often encounter obstacles like early pregnancy, jail, and homelessness. We believe every young person deserves permanent, supportive relationship which is why we need your help to show them we care about them. We recruit 6-8 adult mentors for 1 young adult and we meet weekly with them to help them organize and plan for their future.
"My group helps me see the positive in a lot of things," Destiny says. "With my background, I tend to lean toward the worst-case scenario and always think 'What if it doesn't work out?' But having six people behind you, saying, 'But what if it does?' It changes your perception of the world. It makes you believe anything is possible."
Want to help young people break the cycle of poverty? Find out how at Community of Hope's information night: A Greater Cleveland
We are creating small communities of hope where young adults who have experienced foster care connect weekly with a committed group of volunteer mentors. Young people look forward to coming to their “communities” because it
is a place of peace and belonging. The youth-led partnership promotes new experiences through action, love and lasting relationships.
We are a diverse community of volunteers from all over Cleveland. We are from different backgrounds and traditions and we come together to love and serve one young person. Ultimately, our goal is to build positive, long-lasting relationships so that youth have people that can support them and love them as they go through life.
"Our job is to help our young person find and love the light within them. We need to believe that it still burns no matter what circumstances have caused it to flicker or even go out. We sit by their side, we dine, we struggle with issues, we create new opportunities. We light paths they have never even considered traveling. We do not impose our ways or will. We sit at that table with humility holding our flashlight on their countenance and trying in every way we can to bring forth THEIR LIGHT, their talents, skills, strengths and dreams and then to hold up a mirror for them to see what has ever been there."
— Leslie, NCJW and Community of Hope Volunteer
What is Community of Hope?
We started with the Open Table model in 2014, and since then we have expanded our work to be trauma-informed and culturally competent. Our mission is to create long-lasting relationships, nurture hope and restore dignity to youth impacted by foster care.
- Communities are groups of people serving a youth formerly involved with the foster care system.
- Training and support are provided so that members understand how to connect and support.
- Volunteers use their professional and personal experiences to help the youth develop and implement a plan to move his/her life towards self-sufficiency.
- This in-depth relationship-focused program creates safety and stability in the life of a youth.
- Members create change through friendship, relationship, and connection.
- Members are willing to serve and offer their time and ideas to help another person organize their goals and achieve them.
- Volunteers become friends working together to help a young adult move forward in his or her life.
- Community of Hope’s focus is on learning and growing. There will be personal growth and reflection for all participants.
- Everyone involved is changed by the work that is completed at the meetings and in the ongoing relationships that are created through this work together.
- It is purposeful, meaningful and deeply spiritual in the connections created between the members.
Organization and Planning:
- Communities most commonly meet weekly for one hour for up to a year.
- Communities work with their youth on whatever goals he or she has and helps create ideas that support the achievement of their goals.
- Fun events are also part of the time table members spend together.
- People in organizations or congregations have extensive networks that they use daily in their personal and professional lives.
- People in poverty do not have access to networks in the same way.
- Volunteers utilize their church/business networks to help expand our friend’s circle of connections.
- Open Table Creates Support Families for Former Foster Youth
- A Greater Cleveland Asks You to Give an Hour a Week to Lift Someone from Poverty's Stranglehold: Chris Quinn
- Open Table members speak out about the relationships that changed their lives
- Open Table creates support families for former foster youth
- Open Table event draws hundreds to discuss helping others through building relationships
- Pastor's view on Open Table: Offering care and love that opens a new world of possibilities
- Open Table Opens Hearts
- Open Table Open Hearts: Year 2 in Cleveland
- Open Table Transforms into Community of Hope: Year 3
- ‘It’s not rocket science, it’s relationship’
- “Want to help some young people break the cycle of poverty? Find out how at Community of Hope’s event.”
- “How we made a difference in 2018?” Editorial: Chris Quinn
- Concert to celebrate Community of Hope