BURLINGAME, Calif. — A founder of the successful Hope Meadows community in Rantoul has been recognized for her work helping those in need.
Brenda Eheart, who was instrumental in the founding of Generations of Hope Development Corp., Champaign, which operates Hope Meadows, has been named a 2011 In Harmony with Hope winner.
In 1994, Eheart spearheaded the transformation of the decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base into a Hope Meadows — a neighborhood where neglected and abused children who have been removed from their parents for their safety, find adoptive parents and a permanent home. Also present are honorary grandparents — senior citizens who volunteer their time to help with the youngsters.
Since that time, the Hope Meadows model has expanded across the nation, most recently in Portland, Ore.
Eheart is now helping to develop communities based on not only caring for foster youth but also frail elderly military veterans and disabled veterans.
Eheart was one of three $25,000 winners of an In Harmony with Hope Award.
The award honors the accomplishments of leaders who provide inspiration and hope in the face of difficult times.
She was honored at a ceremony hosted by Danny Glover and sponsored by The Elfenworks Foundation.
Also cited were Jim McCorkell of Admission Possible, St. Paul, Minn., and Bill Milliken of Communities in Schools, Washington, D.C.
McCorkell grew up poor and struggled to afford college, but as soon as he finished his education, he started Admission Possible to help other low-income youth follow his path to higher education.
Although many of the program's students are from families with no history of college education, 98 percent of Admission Possible's students are admitted to college, and 80 percent earn their four-year degrees.
Milliken has built a network of schools, families and community leaders to support at-risk youth.
Communities in Schools, the program he started in Harlem nearly four decades ago, which has grown to serve more than 1.3 million kids in 3,000 schools, works by placing site coordinators who act as routers to ensure that each student is getting appropriate support and that no student falls through the cracks.
"Each of these winners has been incredibly successful at helping vulnerable individuals overcome daunting barriers and lead happier lives," said Dr. Lauren Speeth, Elfenworks founding CEO. "Their unwavering dedication to solving society's most pressing problems in their own backyards represents the inspirational power of hope in action that Elfenworks is committed to supporting."