Rekindling connections made through Hope

A few weeks back, Hope CommUnity Center received a testimonial from one of our Service Learning Program participants. Tad Clifton spoke of how this experience improved his life and how he fondly remembers those who became his friends and family during his time in the program.

Clifton’s experience and testimony are a true reflection of how this program allows college students from all over the country to immerse themselves in a completely new and different environment that will push them to see life from a different perspective and even freshen up or learn a new language. Tad was glad to discover he had learned a bit more Spanish in school than he thought, through his interactions with Mama Celi, the grandmother of the house he stayed in for the duration of the experience.

This program also made him aware of the social and political problems immigrants face in our country today. For example, he learned all about DACA and what it entails, and the repercussions it can have on an immigrant family. It was very moving to read that these issues made him want to continue educating himself to become an advocate for people going through the same issues as his immersion family.

He speaks very fondly of the memories he made and captured through his camera lens. He also states that his time in Apopka helped strengthen his faith:

“Everyone we met told their stories of Immigration. Full of emotion, they discuss their experiences, some leaving their family behind, some feeling alone, and all facing prejudice. Yet, even in their worst moments, they trusted God. Through my daily reflections, I found God in all the people I met. I saw God in the farmworkers who laughed as I struggled to prune stems. I saw God in Mama Celi, who gave up her bed, so I would be comfortable. I saw God in the people in the Hope Center, who have dedicated so much time and energy to the never-ending pursuit of change. I saw God in the emotion people showed as they shared their stories with us. I saw God in every smile, every “thank you for being here,” every “YOU’RE FROM GONZAGA!!!” and every person I met. I see God in every picture on this camera.”

Tad Clifton’s testimony reflects what Hope CommUnity Center’s Service Learning Program is all about. On Saturday, September 24, we invite you to celebrate 30 years Y Más! of our “Service Learning” program at the “Unidos en Familia” Event! as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Thank you, Long Scott Farms and Rollins College for their generous support of our celebration honoring the history of Hope’s Service Learning program. All program participants and brave families are invited to reconnect with immersion students. Show your support for this event here

We want to also thank all the colleges that partner annually with Hope CommUnity Center to immerse students in this fantastic program. Discover more about how to become a part of this program here.