It’s been a year for me at Operation HOPE. There are so many memories to reflect on. I have never experienced so much growth in such a short time, except when I was carrying my four children in the womb. It all started when my son, an intern in the HOPE Inside Ebenezer Cyber Cafe, told me about the Entrepreneur Training Program. “Mom” he said, “this guy Darrick is teaching folks everything they need to know about owning a business, and it’s free.”

Even though I had been in business for over 8 years, he knew this was the instruction I needed to take it to the next level. I enrolled. While awaiting the start of the program, Kris Hale (a childhood friend) asked me to become a Business Role Model. She thought I could lend some of my business expertise to young entrepreneurs getting ready to compete in the HOPE Global Forum. Turns out, Mohammad Bah and I made a pretty awesome team. After working with him for countless hours, perfecting his presentation skills, and helping him to build the first Mobile MiniMart cart by hand, he won the grand prize of $2000 to invest into his business!

Over the next 9 months; I wrote 48 resumes, assisted with 17 new business start ups, helped publish a book, and led over 50 computer literacy workshops in the Cyber Cafe. I spent 40 hours a week in the “heart beat of HOPE Inside Ebenezer” and many hours outside the cafe preparing home baked treats for members, and providing additional support wherever they needed me to be.

My journey continued, as I moved on to the Youth Empowerment Division of HOPE. Within weeks of accepting the position of Program Manager, I hit the pavement running. Together, my team has educated 2200 students with Banking on Our Future courses in the last two weeks and we have begun our 10 HOPE Business in A Box Academies. With our collective strength, we have trained more than 125 new volunteers and brought on three new partners.

So here I am… a year in, and the future looks AWESOME! I want to send a special thank you to those that believed in me and recognized my gifts.

To my Atlanta Youth Empowerment Group Team, Let’s Go!

 

Jessica Washington