Stories of HOPE – Walter Wodtke

Walter Wodtke comes from a family based on dedication and hard work.  He was raised by his mother, who was a single parent and has had polio since she was six month’s old. “Not only did she raise me, but she also put herself through college and became a social worker with the County of Los Angeles,” Walter states, “She has been a great inspiration to me day in and day out.” Walter began in the banking...

Stories of HOPE – Celeste O’Brien

Celeste O’Brien describes herself as an entrepreneur by heart and passion. She has been a massage therapist for eleven years now and works at Symmetry360 Massage, which she owns along with her business partner, Kina. Symmetry360 Massage began with just Kina and a lone massage room in a Pilates studio. “We had a dream to create a company that was supportive and nurturing to massage therapists,” Celeste explains, “helping to learn and grown within their careers. We also felt, and still feel strongly, that massage helps to reconnect people to the most important thing there is: our bodies.” With these goals in mind, their business has been open for six years and now has three locations and forty employees. They hope to continue expanding and impacting the world in a positive way.

Stories of HOPE – Hayana Kwon

Hayana Kwon is a 1.5 generation Korean American. Her parents immigrated to the United States when she was one year old. She and her sister were both raised with heavy traditional Korean values, which made it difficult for them to fit in. Instead of an occasional night out for a pizza dinner, Hayana’s parents thought it was better to save money and eat home with the family. Spending allowance money on a friend’s birthday slumber party was out of the question. “So growing up was difficult,” Hayana explains, “but thanks to my parents, I learned the importance of money management, saving and budgeting at an early age.” With the help of her parents, Hayana was able to buy a car and pay off her college tuition quickly.

Operation HOPE Welcomes Casey McQuillan as Our New Project 5117 Fellow

Casey McQuillan recently joined the Operation Hope family as our Project 5117 fellow from both the Roosevelt Institute and Andrew Goodman Foundation. A rising sophomore at Amherst College, Casey studies Mathematics and Economics while serving as President of the Amherst Debate Society and as a member of the Executive Board for the Roosevelt Campus Network chapter at his school.

Stories of HOPE – Leisa Boswell

Leisa Boswell, like most Californians, is a transplant originally from the rural cornfields of central Illinois. Leisa came to California after her first failed attempt at college (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign) and went to a community college for a year to gain residency before transferring to UCLA. She loved living in Los Angeles, but moved to the bay area for her job after she graduated. She is passionate about education, photography and snail mail. “I am single-handedly trying to save the United States Post Office by sending tons and tons of postcards to strangers and family alike,” Leisa states.

Stories of HOPE – Nicolette Szonday

In 1986, Nicolette Szonday left Hungary with her family as political refugees. Because of how her mother and grandparents were saved, protected and fed by American soldiers during World War II, Nicolette’s family chose to move to America out of the many countries willing to take them in. Starting over was tough, but Nicolette used her Small Business Accounting Certificate and BA to stay on track. She has worked in the financial field for the past fifteen years, working for Bank of America and now for JP Morgan Chase as a Sr. Specialist experienced in handling domestic and international clients with their retail and credit card accounts. Nicolette is also currently in training to become a lender with Chase Credit Card Services in Wilmington, DE.

HOPE Corps Directors Present on Volunteerism at Points of Light National Conference

By Sean L. Sallee Deputy Director, HOPE Corps Earlier this week, HOPE Corps Director and Deputy Director Evelyn Ducoulombier and Sean Sallee, respectively, participated at​the Points of Light ​National Conference on Volunteering and Service in Atlanta, GA. The conference brought together thousands of like-minded citizens dedicated to volunteerism and service. Throughout the week, they participated in and...

Stories of HOPE – Donna Swopes

Donna Swopes has been volunteering since she was a child. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Donna began volunteering as a Brownie in elementary school at Barstow Country Day School. In high school, she volunteered as a girl scout at East High School. “Volunteering was a requirement of my parents,” Donna states, “giving back to the community was important to them.” After high school, Donna attended the American Institute of Banking and Valencia Community College.

Stories of HOPE – Jerry Patrick

Jerry Patrick, a native Houstonian, has a long history of pursuing a better future. After high school, Jerry went to work for a credit union. He worked many departments for ten years and then went to work for Toyota Motor Credit. He attended college in 2004, where he graduated from University of Phoenix in 2007 with a BS/BA degree. Currently, he is employed with Chase Bank and is celebrating his 13th year there this month.

Stories of HOPE – Marcus Chery

Marcus Chery is from Houston, Texas, and is the youngest of three with an older brother and sister. He is currently in school studying Social Work. After his schooling is completed, Marcus hopes to become a licensed Social Worker.

Stories of HOPE – Z.D. Wooten

I was born, in a small country town in North Carolina, to a loving mother and father. I am the youngest of four children. My father was a bricklayer and my mother a homemaker. My parents instilled in us at an early age to help others and to be the best in all that we do. We grew up in the church attending weekly Sunday School or else we were restricted from doing any activities. As an adult I still attend church with a strong foundation developed at an early age. I love playing tennis and golf.

Stories of HOPE – Anna Jackson

A California woman through and through, Anna Jackson was born in Riverside and raised in Palm Springs. She moved to the Bay Area in 1965. She attended the University of Phoenix and California State Eastbay, after which she began pursuing her career in Telecommunications. She has spent 32 years in this field and is also certified Financial Literacy instructor. She is both a mother and grandmother.

Banking On Our Future College Edition Teaches at Medgar Evers College

By Omari Pearson, National Program Manager, Banking on Our Future College Edition, COGIC Program Manager HOPE Corps volunteer Crystal Williams inspires students during financial literacy session Recently, Operation HOPE Banking On Our Future College Edition held a session at Medgar Evers College. Volunteer Crystal Williams of JP Morgan inspired, motivated and shared the importance of being financially empowered...

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