In the five years since Hands4Hope-Youth Making a Difference was founded, members have met in borrowed spaces like the Raley’s Community Room, Nugget Conference Room, or the El Dorado Hills Fire Station. “This worked for us for the first three years and then it started getting tough to find meeting spaces big enough and that could accommodate all of our meetings and outreach activities,” said Jennifer Bassett, co-founder and executive director of the non-profit youth service organization. At long last, they have a place of their own.
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On Sept. 12, the group celebrated the grand opening of the Hands4Hope youth center with tours of the 2500 square feet property. The center is located in the Embarcadero Plaza off Francisco Drive and Green Valley Road in El Dorado Hills.
“We are so excited finally to have a home. The youth center has been a buzz with activity since we first opened,” said Bassett. “It is so great to have a place our youth can meet anytime, with supplies simply a closet away.”
In the weeks leading up to the grand opening Hands4Hope volunteers were busy sprucing up their new space. Bassett said the center would be open three afternoons a week for now and will be a place to “get things done.” Volunteers can meet and perform outreach work, she said, like using the new kitchen to store, distribute and bag canned goods for food drives.
The Hands4Hope Youth Center will provide office space for staff and interns; meeting space for youth teams, committees, youth board, H4H Clubs, Parent Advisory Council, Board of Directors and youth development workshops; and working areas for outreach preparation; storage & distribution ofdonated items; and small group projects.
Six area high schools (Folsom, Jesuit, Mira Loma, Oak Ridge, Ponderosa and Union Mine) have Hands4Hope-Youth Making a Difference student representatives actively serving on the youth board.
There is also a common area in the heart of the building for elementary (Team Hope), middle school (Team Dream) and high school (Team Inspire) Hands4Hope clubs and committees. This would be the place where they work on small group projects such as blanket making, project birthday gift bags, card making and more.
“Kids are welcome to come hang out (at the center) after school,” said Bassett. “But they can be sure we’ll find a project for them to do!”
About 1,200 youth from 12 area schools are registered with the service organization, but they are still sorely lacking in one key area.“We have lots of kids involved, and that’s great, but what we really need now are adult volunteers,” said youth board vice president and Union Mine High School student David Enzler.“We’re responsible kids, but we’re still squirrely and we need adult mentors to be able to do even more community service projects.”
Right now if someone requests help for an event, five or six Hands4Hope volunteers are not hard to find, Enzler explained, but what is difficult is finding enough adults to oversee the hundreds of events and service projects the youth plan.
Bassett expressed gratitude to the community and special thanks to Aborn Powers, Inc. for giving Hands4Hope a great deal on their lease. Western Sign Company installed new signs outside the building on Sept. 6. Bassett also thanked El Dorado Hills Endowment and El Dorado Women’s Fund for making the youth center a reality.
Hands4Hope–Youth Making A Difference is a nonprofit based in El Dorado County, serving El Dorado and Sacramento Counties that empowers youth K-12th grades to make a positive difference in the world around them through exploration, action and leadership. For more information on Hands4Hope or the Grand Opening of their Youth Center, call 916-919-5695 or visit hands4hopeyouth.org.
The new youth center is located at 877 Embarcadero Drive, Suite 3.