Drew Welker and Sydney Young
January 26, 2023
Hands-On - Project Hope members Anthony Peters, Asha Adhikari, JT Armstrong, Drew Welker, Emily Huss, Ava Britton-Heitz, Aubrey Frohardt, Kallie Barker, and Sophie Butcher pose for a photo after a four-hour shift at Gleaners Food Bank
A growing club at Westfield called Project Hope aims to educate its members about homelessness and provide hands-on volunteer opportunities.
Asha Adhikari, a current junior at Westfield, founded the club at the end of her freshman year. At each monthly meeting, she highlights specific struggles that homeless populations face, such as domestic violence and the cycle of poverty. Her goal is to bring awareness to the prevalence and complexities of homelessness.
“I always knew that I wanted service to be a big part of my life as my family members were public servants,” club leader Asha Adhikari said. “My purpose with Project Hope was to start action-based volunteering because I wanted people to go out and see the people they are helping and hopefully gain understanding.”
Through her monthly presentations, she hopes to eliminate misconceptions about poverty and homelessness.
“I think there’s a lot of stigma when it comes to donating or giving money to people in need,” Adhikari said. “It’s important to remember the situation that these people are going through and be kind and realize that there are other ways to help people in need.”
While the club does accept financial donations, it prioritizes volunteering. Once a month, members can serve at Gleaners, a food bank in Indianapolis where they load groceries into the cars of those in need. This experience allows members to directly interact with their community.
“I think Gleaners is a wonderful way to get first-hand experience with people in need,” Adhikari said. “You see people with their kids and their dogs, and it helps you form connections to them…The people that work at Gleaners have started to recognize Project Hope. They see that we’re showing up again and again because we care about the impact that we make.”
Among the key members of the club is the sponsor, math teacher Anthony Peters, who often participates in club activities himself. Having been Adhikari’s teacher, he was quick to support her idea for a new club. Peters instantly shared her passion and drive for the cause.
“There’s a feeling you get when you know that you’ve helped people whether you get to see it or not,” club sponsor Peters said. “We’re all very fortunate and grateful for the things we have, but we should always be thinking about how we can give back.”
Although Project Hope is one of many service-based clubs at Westfield, it distinguishes itself through its mix of education and consistent, hands-on volunteering.
“I think anyone can benefit from service,” Adhikari said. “It’s a humbling experience and it just teaches you how much you have to be grateful for.”