Ten years ago, Calvary Women’s Services held the first Hope Awards Dinner to recognize people whose work – either volunteer or professional – lifts up our community. At the time, one member of our Board of Directors wrote:
“Hope. The mere word conjures up powerful images of conquering adversity, holding your chin high, looking past the problems of today to the opportunities of tomorrow. Each and every day there are Washingtonians working to bring hope to women in need.”
The Hope Awards celebrate just that. Over the last nine years, attendees have had opportunities to meet some amazing leaders – including Sheila C. Johnson, Police Chief Cathy Lanier, PBS’s Gwen Ifill, NPR’s Diane Rehm and many others. When receiving their awards, these notable women have talked about the role hope played as they overcame great challenges to achieve remarkable success.
Volunteers who have had a tremendous impact at Calvary have also been recognized at the event for their generosity. Often these volunteers have told the audience that they have come away from their volunteer experiences inspired by the women they have met at Calvary, feeling that they have gotten back much more than they have given.
But perhaps the most inspiring part of the evening is when women who have graduated Calvary share their stories. We’ve heard from women who have overcome tremendous obstacles – everything from a brain tumor to domestic violence, from drug addiction to post-traumatic stress disorder – as they worked their ways out of homelessness. These women have credited Calvary, its volunteers and staff, and the other women in the programs with giving them the hope to keep trying when it seemed each day was a struggle.
What all of these folks have in common is an enduring spirit of hope. All of the honorees, program graduates and volunteers have not only held onto hope, but also inspired it in others. This event is a celebration of just that, of the power of hope to change all of our lives for the better.
In the words of one woman at Calvary who wrote a poem about hope in honor of the event a few years ago:
it gives you strength
it makes you realize
that you can accomplish things
it makes you try
for that dream of yours
it makes you want to
sing and dance because
you know that you will survive
because it pops in and out of you
just when you think there is none.