Trinity Today: Living for HOPE

Outreach-oriented residence hall celebrates five years

by Susie P. Gonzalez

Four first-year students taking part in the 2011 Alternative Spring Break program had a dream. They wanted to expand the desire of Trinity students to help others for one week into a year-round campus experience by forming a living-learning residence hall dedicated to the theme of ending homelessness in San Antonio. Led by Katie Ogawa ’14 with brainstorming by Shelby Seier ’14, Paige Patrick ’14, and Leah Weselman ’14, the result was HOPE Hall, which stands for Homelessness Outreach Pursuing Education.

HOPE Hall opened in 2012 with 34 students living in Murchison Residence Hall and now has 70 students from all class years. Through student leaders of Residential Life, residents of HOPE Hall have taken part in meetings, programs, and community outreach to help people experiencing homelessness. In some years, the theme has been woven into first-year experience courses, and in all years, service learning has been at the core of the program. Since 2012, HOPE Hall residents have completed an estimated 18,000 hours of community service in the greater San Antonio community.

In recognition of the students’ work for positive change in the community, HOPE Hall received a gold distinction National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Award in 2014, the same year the Hall was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award by the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County.

What’s ahead for HOPE Hall? Residential Life leaders expect the unique hall to continue to evolve in response to the ever-changing needs and interests of Trinity students and the wider San Antonio community.