Contagious Hope

In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul explains how God sources hope into our hearts, which fills us with peace and joy as we trust in Him while waiting for Him to make our dreams happen. God then gives us power to overflow this same hope to others.

Franklin Garcia is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Logos. A few weeks ago, in February, he and his wife Gaby (Director of the United Kids Program at Valencia Park Elementary) partnered with the school to offer a class for parents called Raising Highly Capable Kids®. After 10 weeks of learning how to better listen, discipline and communicate with their kids, twenty-three parents graduated. They were clothed in a black graduation cap and a gown as their children watched and cheered them on. Many of the parents in this community come from difficult places and they just want to break the negative cycle of neglect and abuse. They’ve all said, “It starts with me.” By participating in this course, they’ve chosen to build a better life for their kids and provide a healthier home for them to grow up in. Pretty cool, right?

We’re so proud of these parents but we want to camp for a minute on Franklin, Gaby, and their church. Here is a group of people whose hearts extend out of the four walls of their church and into their community — in this case, the Valencia Park Elementary School Auditorium. Why? They have hope and contagious hope at that. Pastor Franklin used to be a dope dealer but is now a hope dealer. I am so blessed to be catching some of Franklin’s contagious hope as we work toward spreading hope in the Valencia park neighborhood.

So, what is hope? Recently I was at a Project CONNECT meeting with principals and administrators from the Fullerton School District when Fullerton School District Superintendent Dr. Pletka described hope as:

1.     Having a goal for the future
2.     Creating a pathway to reach your goal
3.     Seeing yourself on that pathway

Dr. Pletka’s tangible description of hope gave me hope to continue supporting my friends in moving toward a better future. This resonated with my heart for the community of Valencia Park as I thought of my dear friends who face obstacles in life. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the families in this community and serving their kids throughout the week. Due to trauma experienced at home and/or in the community, lack of financial resources, limited access to good paying jobs, or from the safety-net of family being broken, these people may have lost hope — but, I believe hope is blossoming as we speak.

As a Jesus follower, my hope is woven with my faith in the Good News Jesus spoke and lived out while on earth over 2000 years ago.  The bible speaks of hope and faith in these ways:

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for what will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we can’t see.”

Hebrews 11:2 NLT

“I [Apostle Paul] pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust Him.
Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13 NLT

Part of the Good News message I’m sharing at OC United is that it is possible to look past our current realities and dream of better things for ourselves, our families and our communities.  And it’s possible to make plans in faith toward those dreams and then make daily steps toward making those dreams a reality. Hope is contagious, in a good way, not like catching the flu.  When we bump up against and breathe in the air around someone speaking and living out hope – it becomes easier for us to see hope for our own lives.

Moving from isolation into relationships with other hopeful people is so important for all of us.  This is partly why my youth pastor used to tell me I needed to think about the friends I spent time with, friends could have either negative or positive impacts on our quality of life.

Donna Whitman
Director, Unite for Neighborhoods


Donna Whitman runs the Unite for Neighborhoods Initiative at OC United. An integral part of this initiative is the United Kids after-school program that it offers every week at Valencia Park Elementary School. In addition to providing academic support and a place for children to go at the end of the school day, United Kids provides a trauma-informed learning environment with built in mentorship for each student.

Outside of the after-school program, Unite for Neighborhoods builds relationships with the parents of the children, providing support and resources in order to fully scaffold around the family.

Interested in making a difference for a family and their student(s) in Fullerton?
Click the Get Involved button above and select Neighborhoods.

Raising Highly Capable Kids Class
Raising Highly Capable Kids Class – Pictured left to right Gaby Garcia, Principal Cindy Bach, Franklin Garcia