Since Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference started in 2008, thousands of youth have participated in Hands4Hope clubs, committees, and community engagement outreaches. One way we measure the impact of our program is through conversations with our Alumni.
This month, we have a special opportunity to hear from one of the founding youth of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference, Jacob Bassett, who was just nine years old when the idea for Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference was born.
Please take a moment to read Jacob’s reflection on being part of Hands4Hope at its earliest stages, and how this experience shaped his growth.
A recent graduate of Knox College in Illinois, with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Marketing, Jacob will be on special assignments with us, interviewing other alumni to find out what their experiences have been since graduating and the impact of Hands4Hope has had on their lives.
It’s hard to talk about my experience with Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference as one quantifiable thing. The truth is, I have no idea who I’d be without it.
When I was nine years old, my mom came to my brother and me and told us that she wanted to be more involved with the community. It was a small operation at first - just a dozen people with an inclination towards volunteering. It’s a rare thing to witness the birth of something this significant but as I grew up, it grew with me. I was able to track the progress towards each major milestone that we achieved… mostly because I was brought along to most projects after school.
My mother, Jennifer Bassett, asked my brother, Andrew, and I for advice every step of the way, trying to get our opinions on the hundreds of ideas running through her head. Because of that, I had a sense of agency that I’d never felt before. While I started out as something of a yes-man growing up, this inspired me to start making my own decisions and grow into my own person. Some kids had football or soccer, but I had this; this is what I knew.
Homeless outreaches became commonplace in my childhood, going out to help the less fortunate once a month. Now it’s worth noting that I was a fairly anxious child and I was nervous each and every time we went out. That is, up until the point we gave out the first meal.
It was at that point that I got to see the smile on this complete stranger’s face - the gratitude for something I had a part in. Because of that, I got to meet amazing and interesting new people who I never would’ve had the chance to in my El Dorado Hills bubble.
There were hundreds of people from all walks of life that lined up to get our simple sack lunch, each one of them with a lifetime's worth of stories to tell.
To this day, it is still one of the most astounding and inspiring things I’ve ever experienced.
These days I’ve taken a step away from the operational side of Hands4Hope, instead assisting with more behind-the-scenes projects, such as making deliveries or renovating new areas of operation, and I really love the work. I’ve smashed furniture with hammers, reached through fiberglass to do electrical work, made deliveries to people all over the county, and now I’m here presenting this fun little blog to you all.
It is my absolute honor, as one of the founding members of Hands4Hope - Youth Making A Difference, to highlight our volunteers who go out of their way to assist our community. Each one of them has had a positive impact on someone's life, spreading their much-needed kindness throughout the world.
Until I next help tell their stories, this is Jacob Bassett proudly signing off and encouraging you to hope, dream, and inspire the world for a better tomorrow.