'Helping Hands' Boon For College Bound Children

Taylor Hamilton, summer 2015

Taylor Hamilton, summer 2015



Last summer Taylor Hamilton was on the campus of Yale University in a pre-med summer program. This summer Taylor’s plans call for the University of California at Los Angeles, where she aspires to enroll in the David Geffen School of Medicine.

An undergraduate student at Atlanta’s Spelman College, Taylor has ventured a long way since her days at Homeport’s Pheasant Run Apartments and her 2013 graduation from Pickerington High School North.

And the gifted student knows it didn’t hurt to have a helping hand along the way -- in particular Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands.

“I believe the Helping Hands program has given me an edge that I might not otherwise have had because they have been supporting me since before I even stepped into college,” Taylor said. 

“The program has motivated me to have more, do more, and be more than what statistics project,” she said. “Having a support system like Helping Hands is essential to one's success and I'm very grateful.”

Thanks to Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands, Homeport children for the past four years have had greater access to the tools needed to achieve educational and career goals they might not have otherwise.

“The students receive laptop computers with Microsoft software and are schooled in ‘stepping off to college’ skills, from learning how to keep a checkbook, to the importance of networking and leadership,” said Jessica M. Williams, Homeport’s Education and Engagement Manager.

Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands founders Hank Evans and Dorothy Cage-Evans

Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands founders Hank Evans and Dorothy Cage-Evans

“Once in college, the students can seek follow up financial assistance to cover the cost of books and college fees. In 2015-2016, nine residents of Homeport received laptops and three were re-awarded scholarship funds for books,” Williams said.

Dorothy Cage Evans and Hank Evans started Greater Columbus Community Helping Hands in 2006 when the organization provided a scholarship to a student who had completed one year of college.

This year “Helping Hands” awarded 26 scholarships to college students for books and fees.

“Our ‘laptop’ now ‘Stepping Off to College Program’ was started in 2010,” said Dorothy Cage Evans. “With this year's group of young people, we will have some 250 students completing the program and receiving complete laptop computer packages (with a three year warranty, all software, virus protection, printer, ink cartridge, school supplies, dorm supplies and a book 'College Student Survival Guide'). 

“The participants have completed workshops on college entry readiness, seeking financial aid, financial literacy, time management, health management, social skills, etiquette and computer literacy.  Many of the participants are the first in their family to enter college.”

In 2013 Homeport became partners with Helping Hands and since then 29 children from Homeport have benefitted, according to Homeport Vice President Maude Hill, who has involved herself in fund-raising. 

“It is truly a public-private venture. We have support from faith-based organizations to individuals,” Hill said.

The program has in some cases helped more than one child in a family.

Homeport’s Marsh Run resident Priscilla Tutu received Greater Helping Hands support in 2013 and her brother, Emmanuel, a recent graduate of Walnut Ridge High School, is benefitting now too.

“I am very glad for it. It is very helpful,” said their mother, Agnes Eshun.

For pre-med major Taylor Hamilton, the benefits have been progressive and broad. The support has included a laptop, printer, school supplies and scholarships. When she moved in to her first apartment she even received linens and cleaning products.

“Helping Hands has consistently provided me with the resources to continue my matriculation at Spelman,” Hamilton said. “From tangible gifts to offering guidance and mentorship, Helping Hands has been by my side every step of the way.”