Skip to comments.Inspirational: Hoquiam (WA) high School senior personifies perseverance
Posted on 06/08/2007 12:51:04 PM PDT by llevrok
Among the 110 Hoquiam High School seniors who will graduate tonight is one remarkable young woman.
Hope Hunderfund is known as a star on the High Schools golf team, one of the schools top scholars, a dedicated volunteer, member of the Renaissance Club and president of the Future Business Leaders of America.
There are a lot of people in school who probably think Im just some preppie, popular kid, the 18-year-old said.
They have no idea.
Indeed, Hope, with big blue eyes and an ever-present smile, could have grown up to be the stereotype she knows she resembles. As the youngest of five children in her childhood home in Puyallup, Hopes father ran a successful company and her mother was a stay-at-home mom.
But in 1996 her parents divorced, and since then Hope said shes had minimal contact with her father. She and her three sisters were with their mother, who in the space of just a few years moved the family from Puyallup to Seattle to Union to Ocean Shores and, finally, to Hoquiam. They lived off child support that Hope describes as paltry, and her older siblings often took work to help pay the bills.
Hope said her mother had been a master gardener and president of the Parent Teacher Organization, but the divorce was a wrenching experience for her too.
Her mothers relationships with her children eroded. As Hopes older sisters left home, she and Halli, who is a year older, clung to each other for support.
When Halli left home in 2005 and later went on to college, life at home was miserable, Hope said. But she had a bright spot in her life school.
I went out for everything, even if I didnt know what it was about, Hope said. I got into ASB (Associated Student Body), so Id take a bus that got there at 5:30 in the morning, then wait in front of school until it opened.
On the golf team, shed grown to trust her coach, Bill Bonney, and told him about her difficult home life. During her freshman year, he told her about the Chick Evans scholarship, which gives large scholarships to caddies who do a minimum of 50 loops and demonstrate academic and civic leadership as well as financial need.
Already an excellent student, Hope said she fixated on meeting the requirements of the scholarship. It was her ticket out, she said.
I did more than 100 loops at the Grays Harbor Country Club, Hope said. Not only did she enjoy being with the interesting, successful people she met there and getting tipped she figured each time I did it I was getting $1,500 college money.
Hope, naturally, won the scholarship, which will pay her way for four years at the University of Washington. In fact, she got a second two-year, full-ride scholarship, and the first two years of the Chick Evans money will go into an account to pay for housing, books and food.
Hope still wonders at the coincidence of it all. She went to a meeting about the golf team to get out of a particular class, but Bonney pestered her to try the game. Hope joined the golf team and liked it. Using borrowed, and somewhat embarrassingly tattered clubs, she dropped 30 strokes over nine holes in the course of her first season.
Like Hopes teachers and other mentors, Bonney was deeply impressed by her tenacity and drive to do everything she does well.
When Hope was on the golf team, she lost a ball in a tree, Bonney recalled. Declaring the ball lost would be a two-stroke penalty, so Hope climbed the tree to find the ball for a one-stroke penalty. Halfway up, she fell out but dusted herself off and scrambled right back up.
She found the ball, and she went to state by a margin of one stroke, Bonney recalled. Shell just go at anything all the way.
She also took a job at the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino her sophomore year. The money paid for almost everything, Hope said, including food and phone bills. She saved to buy a car, and pays for her own insurance and gasoline.
She took all the hours she could get, and her social life suffered.
My friends would ask me if I could hang out, and Id say no, I had to work, Hope said. I never told them how bad it was; I really needed the money.
Because of all her activities and work, Hope said, shed get home late, sometimes at 1 a.m., exhausted.
She said that led to more conflicts at home.
Often shed grab a few hours of rest before going to school or, in the summer, going right back to work.
Between her activities and work, Hope also volunteered. She started at the Hoquiam Food Bank after taking a class that required a community service project. Hope said shed certainly had her share of meals made from food bank groceries.
It was a good way to give back, she said.
There she met Linda Borth, director of the food bank, who fell in love with me for some reason.
Just like with her friends, Hope never let on that she was anything other than a happy-go-lucky, precocious student to the other people at the Food Bank. I didnt want anyone to pity me, she said.
But Hope couldnt keep her life under wraps forever. The tension at home escalated.
At the end of her junior year, Hope said, she finally told one of her friends about her distress.
She was really surprised, Hope said. She had no idea.
Her friend offered to put her up at her house, and Hope entertained the idea. But it wasnt for a few more months that she made the decision to leave for good.
I snuck all my stuff out through my bedroom window and loaded up my car, Hope said.
She said she spent just one night in her car, which she downplays as not a big deal. And it was the next day that she went to the Food Bank to tell Borth that she would have to quit volunteering because she didnt know if shed be able to make the trip from wherever she might be living.
Borth had no idea Hopes challenges were so serious.
Hope lost it and the story flowed out. Borth insisted that the girl come and live with her and her husband.
Borth said her husband, Roger, was skeptical. Hed told me no more strays, Borth said. But once he met Hope he, like her other adult admirers, was bowled over.
I wish she had let us parent her, Linda Borth said. But shes so motivated. We were more like roommates than pseudo-parents.
Bonney, meantime, was a surrogate father, Hope said, paying for college application fees, SAT test fees and helping her get a cellphone.
Hope still has contact with her mom and wants to keep their relationship open. In fact, things seem to be looking up. Hope reached out. Mom responded. They went to the mother-daughter tea together at school and Hopes mom was at Wednesday nights HHS awards ceremony, crying each time her daughter received an award. She will be there tonight to see her daughter graduate.
Jill Smith, Hopes counselor at HHS, said Hope is the embodiment of perseverance.
Smith recalled Hope sitting in the counseling office, filling out stack after stack of scholarship applications.
She is exactly what so many people are looking for when they give out a scholarship, Smith said. People want to help her.
Hope is a bit chagrined by this, and worried that her classmates hated her for taking so many walks to the podium at the schools scholarship and awards ceremony. She doesnt know if people understand that she was one of those kids falling through the cracks, able to rock-climb her way out by dint of sheer will.
Everything happens for a reason, Hope said. I dont know that I would have been the person I am if things had been easy. I certainly dont know if I would have appreciated everything Ive earned.
But Hope said she couldnt have done it alone. She had a community of adults take interest in her, encourage her and take care of her.
She said she was lucky that all her activities placed her in proximity to so many caring people.
Theres no way I can repay what theyve done, Hope said of the Borths and Bonney.
If youre in a hard situation, there are people out there willing to help you if you are willing to make the effort.
Praise God for people like her and for people who help them.