When it became apparent that large group gatherings were not advisable for the foreseeable future, the staff and volunteers at Esperança adjusted plans for its Hope Breakfast, turning the 10th annual event into a virtual online morning gathering.
“Our annual Hope Breakfast is our largest fundraising event of the year,” says Jeri Royce, Esperança’s president and CEO. “Canceling it was not an option, so we knew we had to make the shift to an online event.
A location was secured at Galvanize, a co-working location in downtown Phoenix, to serve as the broadcast site for the event. The four speakers—Royce; Maria Valenzuela, domestic program director; David Schlinker, board member; and Michelle Abrams, Mayo Clinic occupational therapist and certified hand therapist; along with emcee Scott Hanson of HMA Public Relations, were able to stay physically distant while sharing the messages of the organization, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
More than 250 guests from more than 20 states logged in for the 35-minute event, raising almost $68,000. Guests were asked to take a selfie with their breakfast using the hashtag #HBShareYourCup when posting on social media.
Abrams gave an account of her volunteer mission work with Esperança in Ecuador. “As I prepared for the surgical mission, I was told ‘stick to the basics’ and it took me some time to figure out the enormity of that statement,” she shared. “While the surgeons performed life-transforming operations, I supported the basics by teaching every patient and nurse to ‘reach for the stars’ and pretend to be Superman to control their swelling. Now I know that those basics they learned will help them with future injuries, surgeries and beyond.”
As planning had begun for the in-person event prior to COVID-19, there were some elements that could not be transferred to this new platform.
“We were unable to get our catering deposit refunded. So instead, we worked with Santa Barbara Catering, our caterer, and were able to provide four to five days’ worth of groceries for seniors living in HUD housing,” Royce says. “We were thrilled that we could do this for the participants in our domestic program who are especially vulnerable during this time.”
The funds raised from this year’s Hope Breakfast will be used to provide technological capacity both locally and globally to deliver virtual training and coaching for each participant, allow Esperança to hire two additional community health educators to support the expansion of health education and the new youth development program, and support additional volunteer surgical teams for seven new missions each year.
In the coming months, Esperança is committed to improving the health of seniors living in Arizona through education on nutrition and chronic disease management. The organization will also be launching a new program designed specifically for at-risk youth—Future of Hope. Participants will gain knowledge about public health issues in their community and learn to serve as role models and advocates. Lastly, Esperança is committed to doubling the number of free surgeries they can provide over the next three years.
In response to COVID-19, since early April, Esperança has been providing bi-lingual health education videos through their social media channels including at-home exercises, how to properly brush and floss, and healthy meal recipes. The organization’s health educators are also conducting weekly phone check-ins with seniors to lend support and identify specific needs they may have.