Dancing for Our Heroes: Students Footwork to Help HOPE Missions
Carter Lacy and Bethany Milby, students in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences, have been rehearsing for this year’s Dancing for Our Heroes event on behalf of HOPE Missions. It’s a cause that’s close to their hearts.
HOPE Missions exists to feed the hungry, provide clothing and shelter, empower and equip by showing each the love of Christ.
“We serve folks here in Anderson who are experiencing homelessness,” said Jennifer Pray, who serves on the HOPE Missions Board of Directors. “We serve breakfast six days a week, help connect our guests to community resources and provide cold weather emergency overnight shelter as well.”
Dancing for Our Heroes, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greater Anderson, takes place on April 20, 2023. In the event, patterned after the popular “Dancing with the Stars” TV show, dancers representing several community causes perform a choreographed dance for a panel of judges. While it’s a competition and a winner is declared, anyone can win the People’s Choice Award by raising the most money for their organization.
Lacy and Milby, who have spent a lot of hours serving at HOPE Missions, were approached about dancing for the event. Since agreeing to take it on, they’ve been rehearsing their moves in preparation for Dancing for Our Heroes.
“We’re doing a Cha Cha,” said Milby, a junior from Greer who is a Human Development and Family Studies major with a double minor in Spanish and Sociology. “It’s going to be fun, silly, funny and entertaining.”
As a young girl Milby took dance classes, but has been away from dancing for a while. She and Lacy appreciate the chance to practice at the Anderson School of Dance with choreographer Anna Giles.
Lacy admits to being initially nervous when he started to rehearse, but Giles put him quickly at ease.
“Our choreographer just told us that everyone’s pretty bad when they start… she’s been really helpful,” he said.
HOPE Missions is aptly named, because they are there to give hope to those who need it the most. HOPE Missions CEO Dave Phillips says that since the organization was established in 2020, the number of people they serve has doubled.
For Lacy and Milby, volunteering at HOPE Missions is about more than just serving food to people who come in, then cleaning up afterwards.
“I go in the mornings and we give coffee and breakfast to the guests, then I usually just sit down, hang out with them and talk, play cornhole, shoot basketball—it’s all about the relationships,” Milby said.
“She knows all their names. For someone so young I’m just so impressed by her heart for these people but also the ease with which she converses with them,” Pray said.
“Usually when I get there, I talk with people and wash dishes,” said Lacy, who started volunteering at HOPE Missions the second semester of his freshman year. “I feel like the environment is awesome, just a laid back environment where you can talk to people really easily and get to know their stories.”
“HOPE Missions is a place for people to feel safe, loved and not judged; a place to rest and make friends and feel like you’re part of a family,” Milby said.
“It's a place that's really centered on the gospel, trying to give that love of Jesus through physical needs, through food and breakfast, clothes, a place that they can stay when it's below 38 degrees at night,” Lacy said.
“I know they love what they do and they love being here. We love having the students,” Phillips said. “When they see who we’re dealing with and who we’re loving on, they walk away with a whole different perspective of what it means to serve ‘the least of these’ and what it really means to be walking alongside people who are experiencing homelessness and struggling.”
More information about HOPE Missions and Dancing for Our Heroes can be found online.