Moving Families Forward: HOPE is More Than an Acronym
The hospitality industry’s rapid growth, ample opportunities for career advancement, and great potential to extend economic security to families throughout the region make it a strategic focus for workforce development initiatives in the District.
Through the Walmart Washington@Work program, the Community Foundation proudly supports the HOPE (Hospitality Outreach Pathways to Employment) training program. HOPE is operated by a partnership between The Goodwill of Greater Washington, The Community College of the District of Columbia, and Progressive Partners—a consortium of regional hospitality employers and experts.
Adult learners from the Greater Washington region enrolled in HOPE’s intensive 10-week training program follow a nationally-recognized curriculum consisting of hands-on and text-based training, mathematics and computer literacy skills reinforcement, and soft skills training such as resume writing, interviewing practices, and workplace conduct.
Greeted with a standing ovation, Alex Holland stood at the podium as the Goodwill’s HOPE class of 2013 valedictorian. He expressed his confidence in the future success of his fellow graduates and conveyed his gratitude towards the dedicated instructors and organizers.
“These are professional people who wanted to reach back and help the community,” says Holland, one of the oldest graduates from the class. Holland didn’t let his age stand in the way of his achievements; he earned a 96% average in the class.
Before enrolling in HOPE, Holland’s journey to continue his education had been interrupted by tragedy. After losing his home, he knew that he had to reenter the workforce to help his family back onto their feet. Holland first decided to become a certified tractor trailer driver. He was only part way through his training when his young granddaughter passed away.
“The whole reason I was on the road to get a class A driver’s license was for her. There were things that I wanted to do for her like start a college fund and maybe leave something for her when I passed away. After losing my granddaughter, I knew driving a truck wasn’t going to do it. I couldn’t be away from my family.”
It was at that point that he realized the opportunity the hospitality industry might hold for him. His family and the memory of his granddaughter continue to motivate Holland.
Over 175,000 economically insecure families in the Greater Washington region struggle to afford basic essentials like food, clothing, and housing. Often the greatest barrier to employment in our region is a lack of skills and credentials. Recognizing this, The Community Foundation and its partners provide motivated individuals like Alex Holland the resources they need to keep their families in secure financial standing.
To be sure, family was cited by many students as a core motivator in continuing their education. Another HOPE graduate, Lakisha DeVaughn, calls her children her “it factor.” “They’re what I live for, they are what drive me to get up and go every day. I always strive to be a better parent for my kids” she says. DeVaughn adds that the program “restored hope in a lot of us who had lost our way and our foundation. It brought back direction and faith that things could get better in our lives.”