"Hope Dealers" Inspire Youth to Achieve True Wellbeing
In today's society, all too often we read disturbing stories about muggers, thieves, batterers, and drug dealers. That's why I was so heartened to read a story in the Chicago Tribune this week about something altogether different -- "hope dealers."
Huh? What the heck is a hope dealer? It's one of the most ingenious titles I've seen in recent years, and it's for a fantastic cause.
It all started with Corey Hardiman, a Gates Millennium Scholar at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Corey grew up on the South Side of Chicago under difficult, but all-too-common, circumstances. His Roseland neighborhood was saturated with violence and gangs. His father went to prison in 2004 for drug trafficking. And yet, Corey prevailed. Through his faith in God, perseverance, and hard work, he secured an esteemed scholarship to attend college.
Now 22 years old, Corey is focused on providing healthy role models to the kids in his old neighborhood in order to give them hope that they can rise above their difficult circumstances, just like he did.
And so, during the week of Morehouse College's spring break, when many of his fellow students were heading to warmer climates for leisurely vacations, Corey and 14 of his college friends came back to Roseland and performed community service as hope dealers.
This wasn't easy to coordinate, but that didn't stop Corey. He found a church to provide free lodging and local transportation for the group of 15 and raised money for all of their bus fares. Their service activities included visiting elementary schools for book readings, passing out groceries at a local food pantry, and walking the neighborhood streets sharing their stories of perseverance and triumph. Their goal was to help at-risk kids understand that they can also prevail over their challenging circumstances and go to college.
The Morehouse students also gathered information from Roseland high school students so they can keep in touch with them via phone and Facebook in order to encourage them finish high school and continue their education.
On Corey Hardiman's Twitter profile, he writes, "My father was a DOPE dealer - which inspired me to be a HOPE dealer!" And that you are, Corey. Not only are you providing hope - you are inspiring youth to achieve true wellbeing by showing them how the spiritual, educational, and emotional aspects of our lives can work together to conquer even the most difficult challenges.
For this, I thank you.
Bowean, L. (March 12, 2014). "Hope dealers" come to inspire Roseland's kids: South sider brings his college classmates home for spring break service. Chicago Tribune (Online Kindle edition).