A child gets her face painted during the 2019 HOPE event.
A child gets her face painted during the 2019 HOPE event.

A chance to make a difference

This Saturday marks the 28th year of Student HOPE at Colorado Academy. HOPE is a student-run club that provides clothing, winter coats, eye exams, flu vaccinations, school supplies, toiletries, diapers, wrapped presents, and hot meals for families with few resources. Our students do all the work to organize this day, including providing transportation to campus from other parts of the Denver area. It’s an incredibly well-run operation and is something that generations of CA students have experienced.

This year's HOPE Co-Presidents: Maude Tetzeli, Walker Briggs, and Maya Kendall
This year’s HOPE Co-Presidents: Maude Tetzeli, Walker Briggs, and Maya Kendall

On Friday, nearly the entire Upper School will take over the Athletic Center and set up that space for 2,000 potential attendees. I love seeing the students work collaboratively. More than 80 students manage every aspect of the program. I want to give a special shout-out to Co-Presidents Walker Briggs, Maya Kendall, and Maude Tetzeli, and to faculty sponsors Lisa Dean and Steven Hammer. In addition to collecting clothing, this year’s HOPE team has raised more than $45,000. It’s amazing to see, and I want to express sincere thanks to the families who have donated to HOPE, as you also have a significant role in making all of this possible.

Seeing this effort also has me wanting to encourage all CA families to think about ways you can participate in community service. This week, I met with former CA parent Greg Ball. I wrote recently about his son, Captain Geoff Ball ’06, who led a Marine company at the Abbey Gate at the Kabul Airport. Captain Ball and others evacuated 33,000 Afghans from Taliban control. He shared with me some photos and some of his son’s experience in this humanitarian mission. Greg has committed himself to helping Afghan refugees adjust to life in America, and he volunteers with the International Rescue Committee (IRC). The work our soldiers did to rescue Afghans and help them establish a life here in the United States goes on. Volunteering is a way to honor the legacy of the Marines who were tragically killed in a terrorist attack in the waning days of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

I often find myself pausing to reflect on what it must be like for the Afghan refugees. Most left everything behind and are now in America, having to find housing and work. Many have spent months living in overcrowded conditions with no privacy. Greg shared with me that there are numerous ways volunteers can help, and he is hoping to rally some CA families to volunteer. The IRC needs everything from food and clothing donations to drivers who assist families to get around Denver as they run errands, look for jobs, seek medical help, as well as deliver critical items to households.

If you are interested, please go to this website and learn more. Or you can reach out to me, and I can connect you with Greg. He would be happy to help organize a group of CA families who may want to work together. Our students have just lived through a significant historical event, and getting involved with the relocation of our Afghan allies and friends would be something that ties them directly to that history. It also can be gratifying to help others and can teach our children the value of making a difference.