Community is an essential element of the Endicott experience, and as such, many of our students, staff, and faculty are passionate about community service. The desire to help others and to contribute to their wellbeing drives many of our students, just as it drives Olivia Landry ’22. For the last two years, the interior design major–business management minor has helped to coordinate the HOPE Project, which she explains was, “created in order to provide community members in need with free resources.” The initial goal of the HOPE Project formed in Landry’s mind during her sophomore year, and she says it started as a way “to provide free haircuts for those experiencing homelessness in the area. That simple idea has now turned into an event that is bigger and better than I ever could have imagined”.
With the help of Endicott’s Community Service Department and local businesses, Landry has elevated the original concept of the Project to one that provides local community members in need with access to resources like, “care packages, meal packages, clothing, books, toys, games, food, and raffles for all ages and sizes.” Reflecting on her experience, she says, “I have been able to give back in ways I never thought possible by playing a key role in the design and development, preparation, and growth of this initiative. The people I work with, the people I meet in the process, and especially those that attend the event have motivated me to ensure this becomes an annual event.”
This event is not only impactful on the individuals receiving assistance, but on those volunteering as well. Landry notes, “This project was formed in such a way to allow those from the Endicott community to directly interact with the greater community off campus and see the impact their work has first hand. The HOPE Project has also called to action and inspired many others in our community to get involved in community service.”
Between its first and second year, the HOPE Project has seen tremendous growth, enabling the team of volunteers to reach more locals in need. In 2019, the volunteers helped 75 individuals and provided 25 haircuts. This year, the team of more than 50 volunteers—made up of the Endicott Rotaract Club, student and advisor family members, Endicott’s Football Team, the Northshore Community Development Coalition, neighborhood ambassadors from the Point in Salem, Mass., YouthBuild students, barbers, hair stylists, non-profits, and local businesses—helped 150 people and provided 60 haircuts, despite the pandemic and while adhering to strict safety protocols.
Given the breadth of the event, and the incredible opportunities to connect with members of the community, it's no surprise that the experience is both illuminating and educational. Landry explains, “Through this project, we have been able to identify and learn about economic and societal barriers that fuel the vicious cycle of poverty on the Northshore. The relationships we have built and the stories we hear motivate us to continually better this event and make it increasingly accessible to all those in need. Witnessing how something many take for granted such as a haircut, a winter coat that fits, or a bottle of conditioner can impact someone’s life so greatly, has been an eye-opening experience.”
Landry says, “Someone once told me that in order to change the world, you first had to change your corner of it and that is exactly what this program aims to do.” Community service advocates like Landry recognize that the experience is two-fold—in the process of giving back, you receive so much in return. Connections are forged, preconceptions are weakened, and an enhanced perspective lends itself to a greater understanding of what others go through each day.
Learn more about the Community Service opportunities available on and off campus and reach out to our Community Service department if you’re looking to get involved. Read this blog post to learn more about the benefits of giving back!