Second in a continuing series on Georgetown service.

In 1999, a Georgetown freshman decided the school was missing something. The student filled the gap he saw with HOPE.

When Joe Truglio (COL ’03, MED ’07) came to Georgetown, he recognized a need for low-commitment service opportunities. Truglio responded to this need by creating Hoya Outreach Programs and Education, a student organization dedicated to serving the D.C. community.

“Joe saw a need to offer students direct service opportunities but recognized that Georgetown students are busy,” Rob O’Rourke (COL ’07), co-chair of the HOPE board, said.

Truglio’s first project was the creation of a mobile soup kitchen, which HOPE continues to operate.

Truglio set up a box outside of Vital Vittles where students could donate food. When he had collected enough contributions, he invited friends to his house where they prepared the food they would serve to homeless men and women in D.C.

A few years later, in the spring of 2002, Truglio asked Meg acWhirter (SFS ’05) and Lauren Rosapep (SFS ’05) to co-chair HOPE the following year.

Like Truglio, MacWhirter arrived at Georgetown her freshman year hoping to add something to the community.

When MacWhirter was in high school, she participated in a program that allowed students to throw parties for underprivileged children in D.C. She wanted to continue that program at Georgetown.

Without any resources to back them up, MacWhirter and her friends went door-to-door in Village C and requested donations from students. They asked for money and toilet paper.

When they had collected their donations, the students threw a party and turned the children into toilet-papered mummies.

When MacWhirter began to find resources at Georgetown, she wanted to connect her program with a group. Her program became HOPE’s Party Animals.

Now, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Georgetown students leave from the Healy gates to continue MacWhirter’s program. They no longer rely on cash donations and rolls of toilet paper from the students in Village C.

When MacWhirter and Rosapep became co-chairs of the HOPE board, the organization began to grow.

“Basically we put some energy that summer into expanding it,” MacWhirter said.

By the fall, there were 1,800 students on HOPE’s e-mail list. MacWhirter said “a lot of student support and a lot more programming” turned HOPE into what it is today.

MacWhirter is no longer involved with HOPE, but as a chair of the Volunteer and Public Service Advisory Board which provides funds for HOPE, she watches HOPE from a new perspective.

“HOPE has a lot of respect from administrators, from the VPS board and from the staff of the Center for Social Justice because they’ve really proven that this structure works to pull in Georgetown students,” she said.

MacWhirter added that the HOPE board has been very successful in working through the bureaucratic aspects of running an organization. She said, for example, that HOPE’s budget proposals are “always really well done.”

“It’s fun to see something you’ve worked on just expand and continue to grow,” she said.

Now, co-chaired by O’Rourke and Jeanette Cunningham (SFS ’05), HOPE offers numerous service opportunities, including several programs that just began this year.

The organization offers a tutoring program in cooperation with Catholic Charities, an elderly outreach program, a dental program and several food-based programs, among other things.

O’Rourke, Cunningham and MacWhirter all said HOPE works because it allows students to get involved without making a huge commitment.

“HOPE lets people take advantage of all the resources that D.C. has in a way that isn’t overwhelming,” MacWhirter said.

MacWhirter said the lack of a rigid time commitment draws a diverse group of people to HOPE. She said she met a varsity athlete, for example, who does not have time to tutor, but does happen to have a free Sunday morning she wants to use for service.

“It pulls people together who wouldn’t meet in any other context,” MacWhirter said.

Though HOPE does not require a time commitment from its members, some students commit most of their time anyway. O’Rourke and acWhirter said one freshman joined HOPE this year and participated in every program the organization had to offer.

“The first semester I think I did every single one they had to see what I liked,” Molly Keogh (SFS ’08) said.

Keogh said she joined HOPE because she had never participated in service projects before but was ready to start.

“I thought HOPE was a good place to start because it’s pretty low commitment, but I liked it and so I made a big commitment,” Keogh said.

It may be the lack of a time commitment that draws students to HOPE, but many continue working with the group because of the experiences they have once they join.

MacWhirter said HOPE’s Friday Food program is one of her favorite activities. Through the program, volunteers deliver bagged lunches to men and women in Dupont Circle.

“I just loved to be able to use time that I knew I had available and then to connect with the men who are out at Dupont and to hear their stories,” she said.

O’Rourke also said Friday Food provided some of his best memories.

He said his favorite HOPE memory came from a Friday afternoon in Dupont Circle.

One man he met at Friday Food pointed towards the sky. “I don’t know where you came from,” he said. “But I know you came from up there.”

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.