A Founder’s Remarks from our Tenth Anniversary Celebration

May 14, 2014

Thank you for coming this evening. We are very pleased to welcome you here!

Each year the Giving Circle of HOPE hosts a celebration to honor our grantees and nonprofit partners. This year is a little different because it is our 10th Anniversary and we have some special awards to present as well. Typically it is an opportunity for our members and the public to learn about our nonprofit partners and hear their stories. This year, in honor of our anniversary, we’d like to briefly tell our story, too.

The inspiration for the GCH was a community yard sale for a local family in the fall of 2003. The person who organized it recognized potential (like all good leaders do) and sent out an email saying, “Let’s do something permanent.” Within weeks, a small group of women, around a kitchen table, decided to form a giving circle and came up with a mission statement, goals and objectives, and 16 pages of bylaws. We may have been manic. We had the spirit and energy of a start-up.  We had passion and compassion.

We knew that Reston was an active community, “a powerhouse” is what we called it.

We knew that, despite the affluence of Northern VA, there were lots of needs and struggling families.

We knew that we wanted the Giving Circle to be affordable for all, so we decided the minimum contribution would be $1/day.

We knew that service had to be part our plan. We were then, and are now, unique in that aspect. Our service members are just as important as our voting members.

We knew that we wanted to make it easy to be engaged.

We knew that we wanted to empower our members, not serve out of obligation.

We knew that we wanted to MAKE A DIFFERENCE and we wanted to have fun doing it. From the beginning, our motto has been, “Fun with a Purpose.”

Now, looking back, we realize there were things we didn’t know…

We didn’t know that giving away money would be so difficult. It’s hard to make decisions among so many compelling applications.

We didn’t know that we would discover so many small nonprofits that run under the radar, and do so much with so little.

We didn’t know that beyond giving money, we would partner with nonprofits to help find solutions to our community problems.

We didn’t know that it was just important to invest in solid, sustainable nonprofits as well as funding projects.

We didn’t know the extent of our members’ generosity or that we would give away more than $¾ M in 10 years.

We didn’t know that we would be honored with awards like Citizen of the Year, Best of Reston, Volunteer Fairfax and others; that we would have so much community support.

We didn’t know that we would, ourselves, run 6 direct service programs over the course of 10 years (3 of which – Kids’ Club, Flashes of Hope, and Helping Hungry Kids –  are still going strong) or annual events ranging from Happy Hats to Gifts That Give Hope to Empty Bowls (which just had its 7th very successful event).

We didn’t know that we would become leaders in the world of collective giving, help launch new giving circles, or be the “go to” organization for small nonprofit funding.

We didn’t know that the words we put on paper 10 years ago would become the soul and essence of who we are:

  • to help needy people,
  • to make a difference,
  • to encourage community among ourselves and those we serve,
  • to educate and increase awareness of local needs,
  • to encourage self-sufficiency and well-being among those in need,
  • to promote volunteerism & effective philanthropy,
  • to build a network that is a catalyst for positive change.

We didn’t know that, by trying to change our little corner of the world, we, ourselves, would be changed. That the people we serve would touch our hearts and make us want to do more. That we would get more than we would give.

So, therefore, on behalf of the founders of the Giving Circle of HOPE, thank you to all of our members, friends, family, and community supporters.

It’s time now to introduce our 2013 Grantees and Nonprofit Partners!

Given by:
Linda Strup
Co-Founder, Giving Circle of HOPE