Faces of Hope seeks to draw attention to community partners

| News Editor

This year’s Faces of Hope event not only highlights community service and civic engagement on campus, but also Washington University’s community partnerships.

The Gephardt Institute is putting together Faces of Hope for the third straight year. The event allows the Wash. U. community to celebrate those who take part in community service.

“[It’s] a chance to really celebrate all the different ways that Wash. U. students, faculty and staff engage with the community and do community services,” said Robin Hattori, the Program Director for the Gephardt Institute for Public Service.

When the event began, it only spotlighted the alternative spring break programs, but has since expanded to showcase over 50 programs, events or groups around campus that contribute to Wash. U. and the outside world.

This year, the particular focus of the event is discussing Wash. U.’s community partners. The event will play a video, which will mention nine of Wash. U.’s partners, the first of which is the St. Louis public school system.

“The video will give us a chance to highlight a little about what the partners do and really emphasize the partnership itself and why it’s been so effective,” Hattori said. “[It will show] why it’s been such a great partnership and what they get out of it at their end and what we get out of it on our end.”

According to Hattori, these partnerships give as much, if not more, back to the students than to the outer community.

“Everybody talks about the Wash. U. bubble and kind of getting caught up [here],” she said. “But the fact that when you do get out…you really get a better sense of what the world is about and what you can do, so I really think it’s a two-way street with these partnerships.”

Hattori believes that this event allows everyone on campus to find out more about what others are doing.

“I also love the chance that students get to showcase a little bit about what they’ve done,” she said. “There’s so many things that go on on this campus […] but this is a really concrete way to talk to people who are doing these projects.”

Hattori pointed out that Faces of Hope provides a central location for several programs to be displayed, which is important because of Wash. U.’s decentralization.

“Wash. U. is known as a pretty decentralized place […] and the fact that this event brings together people from all different schools [and] all different departments […] gives you a wonderful sense of the breadth and the scope of all the things that are going on across campus,” Hattori said.

Sophomore Emily Averna, who is involved in the Green Events Commission, is excited that this event will give everyone the chance to see what occurs on campus.

“It will be inspiring to see the ways in which students have followed their passion for improving the human experience, and will be a good networking opportunity for student groups,” Averna said.

She hopes that the event will increase student awareness of the Green Events Commission on campus.

“The Green Events Commission is eager to increase its visibility and presence on campus, and Faces of Hope is an excellent opportunity to do that,” Averna said. “We hope to make connections with other groups who may want to get sustainability consulting from us or who may have suggestions as to how we can improve our operations.”

Sophomore Preethi Kembaiyan, who is involved in both GlobeMed and Crafts By Youth, also likes how this event will give others the opportunity to see their organization’s work.

“Both GlobeMed and Crafts By Youth work primarily in Uganda so it’s not as easy engaging students on campus because our work doesn’t seem to directly pertain to the Wash. U. or St. Louis community,” Kembaiyan said.

Another benefit of Faces of Hope is that participants of community service can reflect upon their work.

“I think it’s important for us to always take a step back and reflect on the things that we’re doing and ask ourselves how can we be doing them better [...] to take the time and appreciate the effort that goes into them,” Hattori said.

The event will take place in Whitaker Hall Atrium and Auditorium on Thursday, April 8, from 4 to 6 p.m.