The first day of our fellowship with Operation HOPE in Washington DC began with one phrase, “Do you have comfortable shoes?” Since that first day, the rest of the week has been a whirlwind filled with site visits to federal agencies, their museums, briefings, meetings, and Webinars. On Monday, we visited the Museum of the US Department of Agriculture, and learned about the different agencies under the Department and how they affect our daily life. At the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the Money Factory, we learned about the history of money and watched the entire process for creating US paper currency. On Tuesday morning we visited the Patent and Trade Office and learned the history of patents.
After taking tours of a few government agencies, we headed to the HOPE Center to check it out. On our ride over, Alaina and I were curious to whether it was planned for the HOPE Center’s location to be on Good Hope Road. To our surprise it was not! Chairman Bryant’s adamant dream was for the DC HOPE Center to be stationed on that side of town (Anacostia) so he drove around with a few trusted advisers and began location hunting. The group finally came across the current location and he fell in love with it. Some may call it ironic, but I like to say it was a destiny fulfilled (a phrase coined by a good friend)!
The DC HOPE Center is amazing! HOPE staff members were friendly, the multipurpose room was great for use and the CyberCafe was rocking! Jahi Davis, the VP of the HOPE Financial Dignity Center, greeted us at the door. He shared a brief history of the HOPE Center, introduced us to the entire HOPE staff and gave us a tour.
On Thursday, the DC Fellows had the privilege of meeting one of Operation HOPE’s distinguished board members, Mr. Lionel Savage. Mr. Savage imagined the Fellowship program as an opportunity for young people to do positive things in their communities, and as a space for them to learn vital professional and life skills, including his famous “3 C Plan.” Mr. Savage is serious about training young people into respectable and effective leaders by encouraging them to demonstrate good character and conduct, as well as a commitment to excellence and the mission of Operation HOPE. Along with sharing his own professional experiences with the group, Mr. Savage gave the fellows advice on establishing a clean image early on in their careers in order to set the stage for future endeavors. “You don’t want to lose opportunities because you have dirt on you,” Mr. Savage advised.