Making Waves

Ever try to get a wave started at a sporting event? It's not as easy as you might think, unless you have a bunch of friends on hand, ready to rise to the challenge

Editor Rick Broussard

Photo by John Hession

I bet it's a gratifying feeling to watch a wave you helped to start as it travels around a stadium and then returns to sweep past you on a second lap. Frankly, I've always been the kind of person who ducks such crowd impulses, but I've experienced a similar feeling just recently. Some friends and I started up a kind of wave a couple of years ago called Building on Hope and this year that same impulse of generosity and volunteerism is making a second round, picking up more enthusiasm as it rolls back into view.

Building on Hope, for the uninitiated, is a kind of Extreme Home Makeover for worthy local non-profit organizations that could use some rebuilding and sprucing up to better achieve their missions. In 2012 the program organized hundreds of volunteers and raised about a quarter of a million dollars worth of building supplies and in-kind donations. This all went to transform a homely little house in which Easter Seals NH helped young men get ready to tackle the world. You can check the project out at if you want to see an ugly duckling become a swan. All it took was a two-week-long rally where people of goodwill got together to help others less fortunate and leave an enduring legacy of care.

This year, Building on Hope has a new project that is just as compelling for another non-profit that is just as deserving. Our project 2012 is the Girls Inc. headquarters on Varney Street in Manchester. This place isn't a 24-hour residence like the Easter Seals building was, but it's still a home-away-from-home for about 100 girls who depend on it for a warm, safe place to play, make friends, study, eat a meal or find a listening ear.

The challenge for Building on Hope is two-fold. It's essential to enlist the volunteers, builders and designers who will do the work, but before they can do their job properly its important to understand the hopes and dreams of the kids who will use and occupy the new facility.

To accomplish this, we've been meeting with the staff and leadership of Girls Inc. and to some of their long-time volunteers, but we're also listening to the girls themselves. The actual building project begins at the end of April, and until then we'll be asking those girls to put their dreams down on paper as drawings and writing. We'll chronicle their works of art online, on the Building on Hope website and on ours.

Some of those childlike hopes and dreams may seem out of reach right now, but it will be fun to look back later and see how many were made real. After all, until you actually stand up and start a wave, you never really know how far it will travel.

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