Hope Meadows has received numerous awards for its innovative approach to adoption and volunteerism, including the AARP Inspire Award, the Illinois Governor’s Home Town Award and the Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program has also received nationwide attention in the media, being featured in the New York Times, AARP Magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show and many others. Hope seems to attract people with a passion for helping kids, and many of those people come from far away to be a part of the unique experiment.
Senior volunteer Carol Veit first heard about Hope Meadows during the mid ’90s in a Southwest Airlines magazine. A mother of two and a former physical therapist from El Paso, Texas, Veit says she knew long before she retired that she wanted to volunteer at Hope. Though she has only lived there for about two months, Veit says she is already finding her place in the community, volunteering to work with children at the neighborhood activity center and acting as an “unofficial taxi service,” driving children to places outside the three-street area making up Hope Meadows.
“At first, it’s scary, because they don’t tell you what you’re going to be doing,” Veit says. “They let you figure out where you belong for yourself. … You have to step up to the plate, and I feel like I’m accomplishing something here.”
David and Carol Netterfield moved to Hope Meadows in 2008 from Nebraska. David spent 16 years in the Navy and eight years in the Army before meeting his future wife, Carol, on an Internet dating site. Carol had been a teacher for 34 years in a Catholic convent, but she left because she wanted a family. She says she took in foster children, but was disappointed when she had to give them up because their mother “got her act together” and took the kids back. Then she met David, and they eventually moved to Hope Meadows. Here is an excerpt from their interview with Illinois Times.
Illinois Times: How did you hear about Hope Meadows?
Carol Netterfield: I heard about Hope when it first opened, when it was on Oprah. At the time, I was a single [foster] mom and I wasn’t able to do anything, but I always had it in the back of my mind.
David Netterfield: We met 10 years ago on CatholicSingles.com, and early in our relationship, when we first met face to face, Carol told me that she’d heard about this program and would like to come here and be involved. Even in the earliest days of our getting together, we were down here several times to find out more about the program. We’ve been in and out of here since before 2003.
IT: What drew you to this program?
CN: The community aspect of it. We like the idea of community – people knowing each other, helping each other.
DN: And that’s been confirmed since we moved here. It’s the first place I’ve lived since I was 10 years old that I’ve been able to walk down the street in my neighborhood and have people of all ages say hi to me and greet me by name. I just feel very much of a blessing. It just makes living in a neighborhood so much nicer.
CN: Hope does a lot to promote that, too. We have a lot of activities and parties and luncheons. Tuesday we’re having a progressive dinner for the National Night Out Against Crime.
DN: The interesting thing about it is I always thought as a younger person, when I retired I would prop my feet up and sit in front of a TV for the rest of my life. The reality is that our schedule is so busy around here … it’s just amazing how busy you can be when you’re concerned about somebody other than your own self.”
— Patrick Yeagle
For more information on Hope Meadows and the intergenerational community model, visit www.generationsofhope.org.