UCA Celebrates 20 Years of 'HOPE'

July 01, 2012 | Joe Hess

Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) in Spangle, Wash., is celebrating its 20th year of the HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) Taskforce. HOPE is a community service program in which all the students and staff go into the community to assist and serve in everything from volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, to working with Habitat for Humanity. There are four days each year during which students and staff take a break from the classroom to make a difference in the community.

When Larry Marsh, now the Upper Columbia Conference vice president for education, was a new principal at UCA in the early 1990s, his goal was to incorporate service as part of the UCA lifestyle. In order to get the program he was envisioning off the ground, he called on Linnea Torkelsen, UCA alumni and development director.

The hardest part of starting HOPE was finding organizations that would be open to having students come and help. "I had to get into my car and drive into Spokane [Wash.] to meet with organizations in person to pitch the idea," explains Torkelsen.

As is the case with most things, planning the initial HOPE was the toughest. When the word started to get out that UCA was out to serve the community, more and more organizations began to contact them with projects in which students could assist. A couple years into the program, the Spokane, Wash., newspaper, The Spokesman-Review, did a feature on UCA and the HOPE Taskforce program.

Having students simply mark off service hours is not the purpose of HOPE. "From the beginning, our goal was to train students to identify need either within the church or outside the church," says Torkelsen. "They then can spring into action after they have identified the need."