Hope at Hand, is a non-profit organization in Jacksonville that helps troubled youth remodel themselves through poetry. They work with kids and teens from age five through eighteen. Steffani Fletcher, hope at hand founder, wants to teach kids and young adults who have been through traumatic experiences that their past will not define them if they don’t let it.
Hope at hand, uses poetry as a healing process for young teens and kids. The organization strives to enforce, and help build confidence and self-esteem for the youth that passes through their doors each day. Even though they are a small organization they are making a difference in the community helping the at-risk youth. Last year the organization nearly saw 1,500 kids four roughly 400 hours of programming. That is a lot of kids to see and help but Fletcher remains driven by watching the kids flourish. “Most people in Jacksonville probably don’t know we’re out here doing this every single day,” Fletcher said.
Her staff enjoys the work they do with the youth and it can be hard to try and get teens to trust you but when they break that barrier it makes it easier to help them and get them to really engage in the process of the healing. Kristi Schatz, hope at hand employee, mentions “one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is their ability to self-reflect through their writing, and through their art and the courage that it takes to show up and share it in front of a group,” she said. Doing the group session is a way to see the overall growth in the teens because they aren’t afraid to share their story. Hope at hand has had many little success stories with the youth they work with “we had one girl who had hate tattooed on her hand and she changed the hate to hope,” Fletcher said.
They may not be a huge organization but they are striving to grow even more and help as many teens and kids as possible. They want the youth to know that the goal is to try to really get to know them and let them know it is okay that you have made mistakes but the important thing is that you keep moving forward. “You know, stand them up, dust them off, have them lift their head up high again, and you try again tomorrow,” she said.