The Hope Dealers: Mentoring, Educating, Inspiring, And Uplifting In Chicago

Spring break in college is notorious for barbarous beach trips, not renowned for student-led humanitarianism. There is an ostentatious facade associated with students who spend their spring break performing community service. From the outside come looks of pretention and claims of inauthenticity that ridicule the good deeds.

Such cynicism should not be applied to the 16 Morehouse students who are members of Hope Dealers, a non-profit organization that aims to help areas through community service. The group was created by Corey Hardiman, a Morehouse graduate and native of Southside Chicago. Although looking to eventually expand, the group for the past three years has primarily performed service in Southside Chicago, Ill.

“The group of 16 guys who went this year, and the 15 who went two years prior, did not give anything up to go on this trip,” senior Psychology major Tre’Von Hill said. “This was our choice to go here; it wasn’t a charity case. We are allowing ourselves to be a part of something bigger than we could ever have imagined.”

The alternative spring break for the Hope Dealers is crammed with a multitude of service projects. The itinerary starts with the Morehouse students visiting and tutoring at elementary and middle schools.

“We go from school to school speaking on the importance of college, speaking on what Morehouse is and what it means to be a pre- adult, but an African American pre-adult,” Hill said.

“They are not given a lot of opportunities to see what it looks like to be established, and to have goals at this age, so we are

by representing that image. We are dealing hope.”

On their “political Wednesday,” the Hope Dealers spoke with two commissioners and two congressmen about the city. Lastly, as a Hope Dealer tradition, they held a summit of men of color that Hardiman established four years ago. He and the program invite men of color to come together and engage in diverse workshops about mental health, what it means to be a successful man and the importance of college.

However, there is a distinction between going on the trip and reading about the week of events from the outside. There’s more to Chicago than how the media portrays the Southside, and Chicago in general.

“I think, by the way the media portrays the city of Chicago, that it’s a bunch of black guys who just don’t care, who just ride around killing each other, and anyone can be a target,” senior Sociology major Lawrence Trapp said. “But, actually being able to experience Chicago first hand in the streets where it’s going down, and actually talking to these kids, that’s not what’s going down at all. These kids were teaching me things. These kids are smart.”

Although every member of the Hope Dealers is affiliated with Morehouse, the organization is completely funded by itself with no financial support from the school.

“We would like to see the school be more helpful with us,” junior Biology major Torrean Johnson said. “Let it be known that we did get together all of the funds for this trip, and that’s impressive in its own. Either the participants paid to go their own way, or they got help from family members or through our Go Fund Me page.”

The trip wasn’t about Morehouse, it wasn’t about the publicity and it wasn’t about Spring Break.

“I could care less if Morehouse was a part of this or not, what we did in Chicago, nobody can take that away,” Trapp said. “So, I just encourage us as a group, I encourage anyone who is interested in going to this without thinking the end goal is some sort of recognition. It’s not about that…I was able to go there and get on that level with (students) and showed them that I care, they don’t really have people like that to do that. So, forget Morehouse, what we’re doing is bigger than that. It’s bigger than ourselves.”

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