The Journey began in the spring of 2010 when the principal and teachers from Chets Creek Elementary started promoting education inside a large, under-served neighborhood in Jacksonville that was home to 200 of their students. In addition to education, two local moms— Kelly Hutchinson and Liz Duncan— introduced the love of Jesus to these students. Compelled to teach these students about God, they took VBS to the parking lot of the neighborhood! Since then, the organization has been partnering with Beach Church, the McKenzie Wilson Foundation, area Duval County Public Schools, and amazing businesses and individual volunteers to reach out to the students and families in two additional local, at-risk neighborhoods- Portside and Countryside. Throughout this time, they have determined that those students and families who have made the most progress toward reaching their full potential were those who were informally matched up with a team along their journey. This team not only helped to connect them with the proper resources, but also walked alongside them as a friend, mentor, and coach, to ultimately bridge the gap left behind by their past experiences and current life circumstances.
The Gap – The common denominators for individuals and families that are not thriving come down to a gap in life skills, inadequate networking capacity, lack of training, and/or past and present experiences that have not been properly addressed. They simply do not have the necessary knowledge, tools, or training to excel. The first step in closing that gap is to introduce the idea that God has an amazing plan and purpose for their life. Secondly, we must help them realize there is more to life than what they have experienced or been taught, and that they too, have the capacity to live beyond their current circumstances to reach their full potential.
The Solution – Arc of Hope was formalized as a 501c3 public charity to coordinate the solution. We created the Friends for Life program to not only bring hope, but to develop and implement a plan for those who are willing to look beyond their current circumstances and past experiences, and work hard to become the person they were created to be. This transformation begins through an intentional three way partnership. The partnership includes: the individual/family, a trained Life Coach Coordinator, and a Life Coach Mentor Group. With the help of the Life Coach Coordinator, the individual/family discovers and sets goals, creates an action plan, connects with the right resources, possibly receives reasonable subsidies, and learns how to overcome barriers and setbacks. The Friends for Life Mentor Group builds a relationship with the individual/family and surrounds them in much the same way that extended family or close friends support one another. Their purpose is to be a positive role model, share in life’s celebrations and setbacks, provide practical support, leverage their circle of influence, and encourage and empower the individual/family along their journey of sustainable success.