'Not just a York need': Book of hope inspires York County and beyond

Anne Clark, an educator and community leader in York County, is gathering messages of hope from county residents. The messages will be collected in a book with contributors' photos, shot in black and white by photographer Randy Flaum.

Anne Clark started a "chain of hope" about six months ago when she began sending positive messages to community leaders every Sunday.

"I knew I needed to do something," she said, and this was "the small thing I could do to encourage other leaders."

An 18-year educator and administrator at Lincoln Charter School and executive director for Hope Street Garden & Learning Lab, Clark was surprised how much the messages resonated.

They'd say, "'I so needed that, Annie,'" or "'I didn't know you thought that,'" she said.

Clark began collecting hopeful quotes for her first book, "The Journey of Hope," focusing on hope in the school system.

As she was reading them, she realized how powerful the messages could be and decided they deserved their own book.

Book of Hope: Clark organized what she dubbed the Hope Project to gather quotes for a new book, "Messages of Hope from York! Pennsylvania." 

The goal is to have 220 messages from throughout York County — and Clark recognized, "who I might want to speak to me might be different than who you want to speak to you," so she created a Facebook page, to reach the most people possible.

Messages started pouring in through the page, as well as through  text and email.

"Be an 'ember' that keeps burning to give HOPE to yourself and others... and be an 'anchor,' which is the beautiful symbol of HOPE and strength," read one post.

Ninety percent are original quotes, Clark said. Some people made acronyms out of the word hope, some wrote a single line, some submitted poems, and some wrote a whole page, she said.

"We didn’t want to really limit people," she said, adding that it was amazing that people could come up with that many different things about hope. 

In York County, people who responded ranged from county Commissioners Chris Reilly and Susan Byrnes to a first-grader.

Clark said she and her team have collected 190 quotes so far and haven't even gone into the community yet.

She said she hopes the outpouring will continue, noting that if they get more than 220, she will just make another volume.

It's a need: Clark said she believes it's something everyone needs, especially right now, in a "dark time in our nation as a whole" she said.

In thinking of the good work that so many do in the community in spite of that, she said, "that's who we really need to hear from."

And it's a need that stretches far beyond York.

The response to the Facebook group has been overwhelming, with more than 1,700 followers — including those from many of the states, as well as England, India and Indonesia, Clark said.

Clark is donating $500 toward the project so she can put 100 books in school libraries and area nonprofits.

"I think they need it," she said.

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Political, nonprofit and church leaders, mothers, children — they "need to see people who look like them and have had similar experiences and see that they are full of hope," Clark said.

"This is York," she said, but added that "this is any small city or small town — it’s diverse and inclusive." 

Some messages will  go in the book in Spanish, she said, because that's the language in which they were submitted.

Anne Clark's granddaughter, Taliana Kyle, an eighth grader at Logos Academy, poses with her message of hope.

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For the children: Clark's main goal of the Hope Project was to show children that there is love for them and the community — and that even in hard times, people do good works.

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Everyone is affected by negativity, Clark said, and it's especially hard for kids to become the best they can be when that's all they see.

When that first-grader's words of hope are right next to the principal, the county commissioner or a neighbor, that's empowering, she said.

And adults can pull out the book when they are having a bad day and see that they accomplished something, too.

"When people do things they don't have to do, that's hope," she said.

Face to the name: This weekend, Clark will be around York County with photographer Randy Flaum to put faces to the names in book.

Contributors will hold a dry-erase board with their message for a black-and-white photo, and Clark also plans to be available for anyone who wants a photo at their organization, home or favorite place that gives them hope.

"If they want their picture taken, it will be in the book," she said, noting that she hopes to run into people who might have not been on social media and are hearing about the project for the first time.

The book will be published about three weeks after the project hits 220 submissions, Clark said, with a launch party expected for October.

Costs of photography from Flaum and publishing from Phyl Campbell have been donated, and proceeds from the books, sold for $15 each, will  be donated to local nonprofits.

"Let's become the HOPE Capital of the world!" the Facebook description reads.

If You Go:

Saturday, Aug. 4, Randy Flaum will be at Penn Market, 380 W. Market St., in York City at 9 a.m., and at the West York Borough building, 1381 W. Poplar St., in West York at 3 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 5, he will be inside the York Revolution Stadium (tickets required), 5 Brooks Robinson Way, in York City, at noon.