“A family reunion—that’s what this is,” I found myself thinking as I looked around the room filled with HOPE staff from around the world.
Having had the privilege of experiencing HOPE a month longer than the other interns, I knew that the culture was one defined by warmth, relationships, and a staunch consistency in practicing the biblical principles it preaches. But looking around me on the final day of the 2013 Leadership Summit, the week-long conference for international and domestic HOPE staff, I was blown away, yet again, by the heart of HOPE.
I was struck by the realization that this was not the average work conference, defined by sleep-inducing sessions, starched shirts, and stiff networking. It was something entirely different and entirely more personal. In the week we had spent together at the Summit, we had, indeed, put in our fair share of work hours: sitting in on IT sessions, discussing programming strategies and goals, evaluating areas of network-wide improvement, and so on. But we had also worshipped together; we had fellowshipped over meals; we had shared smiles and laughter.
It became abundantly clear to me then that HOPE is more than a company, more even than a community: It is a family, united by a common faith, a common cause, and a common Christ-like compassion for the world.
As the conference drew to a close, I watched HOPE staff say their goodbyes, not with polite smiles and cordial handshakes but with warm hugs, well wishes, and the shared eagerness to catch up at next year’s family reunion.