ENID, Okla. — Hope is beginning to spread in Enid after leaders in the community participated in “hope navigator” training Thursday and Friday.
Three months after the Hope Summit, which was part of first lady Sarah Stitt’s Hope Rising Oklahoma initiative, more than a dozen people have been identified to become hope navigators, including Courtney Strzinek, executive director of YWCA Enid.
“The most powerful thing (I learned) was that hope can be taught, and that it’s transformational in people’s lives and in our community,” Strzinek said. “The big takeaway for me was just imagining how the future could be and empowering people to reach those goals.”
The two-day training held at Cherokee Strip Community Foundation — the convener for the hope navigators — was designed to prepare the attendees to provide leadership and support on the science of hope in organizations, groups or communities.
Leading the training were Chan Hellman, a professor at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and founding director of Hope Research Center who founded Hope Rising Oklahoma with Stitt, and Dr. Angela Pharris, with OU’s Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work.
The first day of training was about a deeper look into the science and philosophy of hope, Hellman said, and that framework was used to transition into the second day of training, which focused on building hope-center organizations and hope-centered implementation and change in the community.
Hellman said overall, he wishes the hope navigators, who each have their own spheres of influence in the community, left the training empowered by the skills and resources to utilize hope and share the science of hope.
“Hope is more than wishful thinking — hope is about taking action to achieve the community’s goals,” Hellman said. “My hope and vision is that Enid becomes a model community of what hope is and how hope can improve the well being of all citizens in the community.”
The participants included representatives from Enid Public Schools, Integris Bass Baptist Health Center, Hope Outreach Ministries, Harmon’s Electric and more.
“It was very interesting to hear different perspectives from different industries on how hope can be impactful,” Strzinek said. “We all have, collectively, the same goal.”
Strzinek said it’s important to empower victims of domestic violence through modeling hope and helping clients at the YWCA see that positive changes are possible.
“Hope begets hope,” she said. “I think there’s just a lot of power in bringing hope to our services and our community, and all of us speaking the same language.”
At the end of the second day of training, the hope navigators all agreed to meet once a month at CSCF to discuss the spread and implementation of hope in the Enid community, said Dan Schiedel, CEO and executive director of United Way of Enid and Northwest Oklahoma.
Schiedel said the hope navigators discussed some of the goals they want to achieve in each of their sectors through the implementation of the science of hope, adding that as a hope navigator, he wants to create a ripple effect.
“One of the goals for me was to try and get our United Way partner agencies to learn about hope and implement hope in their organizations and operations and into their programs,” he said, “so that they can share the science of hope with their clients, and the people that they serve every day.”