End of Year 2023

End of Year 2023

2023 Top Memories

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

YOU, our community, helped make each day in 2023 the best day of the year! Our staff wanted to share a few memorable moments– some poignant, some silly. We hope you enjoy!

“My favorite memory was meeting all of the new camp counselors this summer! We have such an amazing group of staff already who support the mission and really truly care about the kids and this group of counselors really did a wonderful job of working alongside us and continuing the work seamlessly. It was so awesome to see them interact with the kids but also grow with them too”

– Kyla Jefferson, FHC Executive Assistant

“The Tragedy to Triumph documentary was one of my favorite memories.
I enjoyed connecting with the cast and listening to their stories. Showing them how to facilitate group discussions was very rewarding.”
**Note: We can’t wait to share more with you about this documentary in the coming weeks!**

– Michael Lee, FHC Coach & consultant

“This is small, but memorable! One of our students accidentally jumped into Ms. Aster when playing a game in the field during the summer. We were all nervous that she was hurt, but it turns out it gave her back a good crack and she immediately said he was the best chiropractor she’s ever had- no pain the rest of the day! It lightened the mood and made everyone laugh.”

– Hadessa Henry, FHC Environmental Advocate

“This year’s crop of students was so great about sharing their experiences at FHC on social media. It was so much fun to see how their year went through their eyes and get to see them interacting with each other and the staff.”

– Sarah Peterson, FHC Communications Associate

“My favorite memory from this year was seeing how much our year-long students have grown and developed as young leaders in the last year. Whether is was the amazing job they did planning and collaborating on the tomato trellising project in our high tunnel this summer, stepping into staff roles in the summer camp program, or how they engaged and supported new students who may have been struggling, it has been a privilege to witness the amazing young people that they are shaping into.”

– Hope Staton, Farm Instructor & Manager

“I was able to bring my dog Burberry to work. At his puppy stage, I took him on a quick errand before work and he fell asleep in my back seat. Not knowing he was still with me, I had to turn around once I got to the center to drop him back off! Everyone enjoyed having Burberry around!”

– Ibrahim Kamara, FHC Fellow

“Working in a kitchen during the summer is HOT work. Naturally, nerves can get frayed, and tempers can get short. The presence and input of campers (and year-long students) Jackson, Neveah, and Selah, helped to moderate those issues tremendously. Their help was invaluable enough, but their spirits and senses of humor helped to lighten the workload as we prepped food and listened to music (they weren’t big fans of my playlists). They helped to make it a pleasant memory for me that I will recall fondly for years to come.”

– Clarke Staton, FHC Associate

As I reflected on 2023, one memory that stood out was a student learning how loved he truly was this year.

During our summer session, the staff kept coming to me about this student and saying how great he would be for our year long program, but that he likely wouldn’t come because of his busy schedule during the year. I kept asking them, “What is the problem? It seems as though he really wants to come, but can’t?” He was an amazing worker, great team player, and he was accomplishing every task we gave him. We couldn’t seem to keep him busy enough! I kept talking to him throughout the summer and his response remained the same– he would be too busy to be able to sign up for the year long program.

On the last day, his parents and siblings came to the celebration and during the awards ceremony, they were emotional when he got the “Most Valuable Farmer” award. The entire camp was cheering and calling his name. Student leaders stood up clapping and giving him high fives. At the end, his mother came and told me how this was so special for her son because he lost his mother right before joining camp and, being a foster kid, he never believes anyone loves him. He thinks they feel obligated to act as if they like him.

I told her how deeply he touched our hearts and that we love him and wish he would join the year long program and how sorry we were to hear he was too busy. She responded that he wouldn’t be busy, but that he just didn’t believe we really wanted him here.

My heart broke, so I asked her if we could put our heads together and make him realize that we really wanted him to join us. She agreed to talk to him. The family asked him about the year long program during the celebration. He came to me and said, “Ms. Aster, do you really want me to be in the year long program?” I said, “YES!” I gave him a great big hug. He said he would think about it.

A few weeks later, we got his application to participate! The whole staff and his fellow students were cheering!

This experience reminds me of what amazing leaders our students and staff are. I am very grateful for the love they continue to show him.

This is what Felege Hiywot’s mission is: loving others the way we want to be loved.

I am closing out the chapter on 2023 with gratitude.

We would be so honored if FHC was included in your end-of-the-year giving. We started a lofty goal for end-of-the-year giving in November: $10,000. Can you help us meet this milestone? It will go straight to our youth programming and helping the Center make new memories in 2024. 

Thank you for your support! 
Aster Bekele