by Kiana Labrecque, Summer 2017 Intern, Boston College
The first Wednesday of Hopeprint programming, I spent time preparing a combination of donated and purchased foods to create a barbeque. Working with other interns, I set up a serving line, in which people attending the barbeque would be served side dishes by volunteers, then pick their choice of meat from the grill. This plan required a good number of volunteers to do the serving, as well as to do other tasks such as watching children and picking up trash. While we began with Hopeprint volunteers, when the kids from our older, GCC program arrived, we had them take over the serving as well as other tasks.
During the chaos of the barbeque, I was impressed by the initiative these local kids showed. When some of the volunteers grew tired and left the food line, the others organized themselves so they were each serving multiple dishes in a way that remained efficient. One child from the younger Force group took it upon herself to aid the other children in forming a line for food, then later picked up a trash bag and went around cleaning up used plates and cups from the yard. She more than earned a shining moment for that event! I saw many more instances of kids from the community chipping in to make the barbeque a success, such as a group who helped keep the water station organized. All of this was able to happen because we relied on the kids from the community to help make the event a success.
The Hopeprint barbeques are about more than just serving a meal- we do that on other days as well. They are about presenting an experience. If we wanted, we could have outside volunteers serving at each of the food stations, collecting garbage, and doing whatever other tasks were needed to make the event run smoothly. After all, I actually displaced several volunteers to have the GCC kids take over serving food. But the overall experience of the meal for these kids would be very different, and in my opinion worse. I know from experience that volunteering for a local organization like a church or Hopeprint creates a sense of accomplishment, and of belonging. You take pride in the reliance of others on you, and in your little corner that you can run how you think is best, within reason. It’s a form of empowerment, which is Hopeprint’s ultimate goal. In the end, the money we spent on the barbeque was not just on some hot dogs and beef, but in creating a meal that the Hopeprint community could take part in both creating and eating, in order to empower the people of that community.