February 14, 2018
Everything is more or less back to normal at Hope Children’s Home, several months out from the 2017 hurricane season in Florida. Most evacuated during Hurricane Irma, but now the kids are back in school, the basketball courts are full, and the teachers, staff and house parents oversee the usual routines of daily life.
Floridians are resilient and have weathered many storms. Likewise, Hope Children’s Home, which is funded entirely through private donations, has served 5,000 kids over the last 50 years, providing an alternative to foster care and a Christian living and learning environment for kids who need a home for the long term.
The residential campus on 55 acres in Northwest Tampa includes dormitory-style accommodations as well as a growing number of cottages to house younger children and allow siblings to be raised together under the same roof. There’s a school for the older kids, daycare for the little ones and plenty of space for the 81 current residents, who range from infants to 18-year-olds. Because teachers, house parents and staff live on site, the Hope campus is the center of their lives.
Voqal, through its initiative Independent Spectrum, has provided Hope with a dozen mobile internet hotspots, which they use in the school, administrative offices and elsewhere on campus to stay in touch with each other. But as it is for most of us, reliable internet access at Hope is far from a luxury; it’s a necessity that allows them to continue their work each day.
For Hope Children’s Home, this means easier communication and coordination of activities on a busy, sprawling campus. It means access to educational resources for teachers and students, and it means reliable access to information about the world and a way of communicating with others, which is important to the whole community.
The hotspots also provide a means of communicating with Hope’s sister campus in Honduras, another place where reliable communication can be challenging due to weather events or limited local resources. Skype and email keep the two communities connected and help those in Tampa keep track of their colleagues abroad.
Wherever Hope’s youth groups go, their internet access can go with them. They are able to offer flexible, mobile access to guests and visitors to campus, or just provide email access to a student who has come home from college for the summer.
In Spring 2018, 20 kids and five adults will take a two-week ministry tour to congregations in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona. The mobile hotspots will keep them connected to home—and up to date on their homework—while they’re on the road.
The environment on Hope’s two campuses is meant to provide many of the same benefits that any good home provides: adults who are there when needed, reliable routines and a sense of community. The ability to communicate and access information is an important part of that.
Hope’s mission is to provide every kid with a home, and Voqal works to make sure those same kids are connected to the numerous educational opportunities provided online.