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Foundation for Healthy Generations

We are all pathways of hope

When I tell people the story of WithinReach – how we connect families across Washington to the resources they need to be healthy – without fail, the response I get is, “wow, you must really give people hope.” Better yet, when someone witnesses our staff in action, working directly with families – respectfully exploring their needs, patiently describing the available resources, making sure they know the next steps on the path, and bolstering their will to advocate for their health – the observer invariably says something like: “you could just hear the hope in her voice.”Though I have experienced this over and over in my years at WithinReach, telling people that we are in the business of increasing hope always seems like an insufficient outcome for our work.  Assuming, of course, that hope is a nice ‘extra,’ not a critical marker of success.  Turns out I was wrong.  We are absolutely, powerfully, in the business of hope.

At the recent Science of Hope Conference, hosted by our friends at the Foundation for Healthy Generations, I learned that hope can be measured, and it plays a key role in well-being. Research psychologists have identified 24 character strengths, that when maximized, help people flourish.  These strengths help us cope with stress and adversity, AND, it turns out that hope is the top predictor of well-being!

There are 3 key elements in the theory of hope. First, we need a desirable goal; next we need a viable pathway or pathways to reach our goal, and last, we need the will or energy to move along the path to our goal.

This is actually the PERFECT description of the work we do with families every day. The families who reach out to us have critically desirable goals – whether it is a young woman who thinks she might be pregnant and doesn’t know what to do next, or a single Dad who has lost his job and can’t provide enough food for kids, or a newly re-located family who doesn’t know how to get connected to early intervention services for their son who has autism – everyone is driven to help their family be as healthy as possible.

Our work is about helping people find pathways to their goals, and feeling supported to move along the path, no matter the roadblocks that come their way.

Keynote speaker Professor Chan Hellman painted hope as a social gift, and each of us as a pathway of hope for others. It’s real, our work is about hope.

Tags: Family Health Hotline   Foundation for Healthy Generations   Science of Hope   WithinReach   

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