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Club ‘inspires people to inspire people’

Caitlin Nearhood • May 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM

BGSU Firelands’ HOPE Club, which stands for Humanity Organized for Peace through Education, aims to inspire others for social change on campus and in surrounding communities. While they don’t identify themselves as a volunteer group, they conduct fundraisers and occasionally volunteer when asked for help.

The group’s beginnings were unexpected, but they came together under one purpose.

“We stumbled upon each other about two years ago and all of us cared about helping people,” said club president Jessica Oliver, a junior sociology major from Huron.

Club members are of different majors and backgrounds, which makes their mission even more valuable, because each has an important role to contribute, according to Oliver.

On April 11, Oliver and three other past and present officers — Brittany Graves, Talon Smith and Travis Skelly — traveled to Cincinnati for the North Central Sociological Association Annual Conference for the first time to present “Building HOPE: Creating a Sense of Community at Regional Branch Campuses”concerning four core values of their program: diversity, leadership, community service, and strong commitment.

“The presentation focused on how to teach other people to create a movement for social change for the better,” Oliver said. “It’s nice to educate people beyond our city for a change”

When talking about community service, for instance, the club enforced the fact it isn’t necessarily about volunteering time or money.

“It’s a way of life and wanting nothing in return” Oliver said.

Though they’ve been a club for two years, they’ve gained overwhelming support from the student body and campus in general.

“We didn’t expect to be supported (at first),” Oliver said. “Now, there has been so much help offered (to us) because people want to be part of this”

According to a recent press release, the club has “organized or supported multiple food drives, a diaper and baby wipe drive, a coat drive, a conference titled “Nuclear Labyrinth on the Great Lakes, a program on the growing student debt crisis, an event to support the BGSU Firelands community garden, and much more” in the past year.

In general, the club wants to “inspire people to inspire people” and create a domino effect to help make a family out of neighboring communities like Huron, Sandusky, and neighboring communities.

“We want to reach beyond campus walls and gain community support” Oliver said.

Their adviser admires their work, too.

“I have come to both respect and admire the tireless commitment this small group of students has had over the past year to link the College to the broader human community,” club adviser and BGSU Firelands faculty member Tim Jurkovac stated in a recent press release.

The club would like to help with back to school activities, host a women’s rights informational event in addition to a campus “going green” event in the near future.

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