High Hopes Development Center has been serving children and families in need for 36 years and counting. The organization gives children of all intellectual, physical and mental abilities the opportunity to learn and grow together in an environment that provides a strong foundation for future academic and social success.
Even as a revenue-generating non-profit, the organization is tasked with raising funds to support its mission. As with many institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a fundraising challenge, and the team has been tasked with thinking out of the box to keep donations coming in.
“As we all navigate through these unprecedented times, it is imperative that we find creative ways to sustain our quality of life — both personally and professionally,” says Brandy Blanton, High Hopes director of development. “In that spirit, we came up with an idea that not only supports High Hopes, but also local restaurants and caterers who have been adversely affected by the pandemic.”
And so, the High Hopes Supper Club was born — a bi-weekly opportunity to indulge in custom meals from renowned local chefs, all while supporting their businesses as well as the High Hopes community. The ongoing event is sponsored by Franklin Synergy Bank, which is pending a merger with FirstBank.
“Our original idea involved hosting a Supper Club on the High Hopes campus, but then COVID-19 happened,” says Blanton. “Recently, it dawned on me there was a way to execute this idea by morphing the vision to fit our current times. Best of all, the benefit extends beyond High Hopes alone by supporting local businesses. And, everyone has to eat.”
High Hopes is partnering with local restaurants and caterers to develop a special menu, each featuring a salad or appetizer, a main dish and two side items. Meals are packaged in a thermal bag available for curbside pickup on the High Hopes campus every other Monday. Each chef has the creative freedom to add their individual flair for a truly unique dining experience.
Menus are emailed to all interested Supper Club participants one week in advance, and orders are accepted while supplies last. A limited number of meals are available for one, two or four at $25 per person, with $15 contributed to the restaurant and $10 to High Hopes.
While menus vary, a number of local eateries are eager to participate as a way to support High Hopes and reconnect with the community. Among them is Suzette Lane, owner of Catering & Events by Suzette, who kicked off the inaugural Supper Club meal on Monday, Aug. 10, with a delicious summer spread.
“With events being cancelled or scaled back indefinitely, catering as an industry has taken a big hit,” says Lane. “As we usually cater events, this provides a unique opportunity for the community to experience our food outside of an event setting. We certainly miss feeding a crowd, and we enjoyed reconnecting in this fun way that serves a great cause.”
Additional Supper Club partners will include Franklin Chop House, A. Marshall Hospitality, Cool Cafe, Miss Daisy’s Kitchen, Daily Dish, Zolo’s Italian Restaurant and Pueblo Real, among others.
“We are thrilled at the potential of this endeavor, not only to help our organization, but the opportunity to support local businesses, making this a true community initiative,” says Blanton.
Fundraising isn’t the only challenge the High Hopes staff has had to navigate over the last few months.
At High Hopes, children ages 6 weeks to 6 years old, with and without special needs, are educated together in inclusive preschool classrooms. High Hopes also offers an on-site pediatric therapy clinic, allowing children to receive therapy services during their preschool day. The outpatient pediatric therapy clinic provides occupational, speech, physical and feeding therapies to children from birth to 21 years.
High Hopes has taken measures to ensure the facilities are able to remain open and running throughout the pandemic, as delaying care can have long-term or permanent effects on the children they serve.
“We’ve made changes to our daily protocols and launched telehealth services when needed,” says Gail Powell, High Hopes executive director. “Through it all, we’ve remained committed to serving our children to ensure their progress is not delayed.”
One of the most rewarding experiences, Powell says, came when High Hopes reopened their doors in May. Noah, who attends both therapy and preschool at High Hopes, was working on becoming ambulatory when the clinic closed in March. Through telehealth services, his therapists and parents were able to continue working toward these goals.
On the first day the facility reopened, the family arrived not only with a backpack and lunchbox, but also with a walker. For the first time, Noah walked into High Hopes.
“Our children inspire us to continue working hard to identify new solutions to support their progress,” says Powell. “Through the ongoing support of our incredible staff, families and the community, our doors will remain open to families in need.”
To join the Supper Club email list to stay up to date on menu options and High Hopes news, visit https://www.highhopesforkids.org/supperclub. For more information, contact Blanton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Menu for September 8th
(deadline for reservations is Sept. 2)
Catering & Events by Suzette will kick off the High Hopes Supper Club with a delicious summer spread featuring:
Bradley Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Drizzled with Balsamic Reduction
Choice between Honey Whole Grain Mustard Glazed Salmon with Caperberries or Grilled Breast of Chicken with Artichoke Portobello
Preserved Lemon Long Grain Rice
Roasted Corn, Zucchini, Yellow Squash & Peppers
Dessert options are available for an additional charge and include Fresh Banana Cake with Pecan Buttercream and Lemon Bars