A lifetime of hope honored

by Sarah Melton

John Hope Sarah Melton/MIM photo

John Hope thought someone was pulling a prank when he was told he’d had been named Mount Holly’s Man of the Year.

“Carol Featherstone, a member of the Man of the Year Committee, called me and said I had been selected as Man of the Year,” he said. “I said, ‘Well, how did that happen? You sure you got the right person?’ I actually thought Carol was kidding, but she said no, and I said, ‘I guess I will accept.’”

In past years, the committee would not reveal the winner until the city’s Community Dinner. But this year, the committee wanted to let winners know in advance so they could invite family members to the event.

“I started crying,” Hope said. “I asked Carol, ‘What did I do?’ It’s not like I was campaigning or anything.’”

But Hope did not need to do any campaigning to earn the award. He has spent his entire life in Mount Holly giving back to the community.

“I am proud of Mount Holly,” Hope said. “I like getting the rush of doing things to make it better.”
Hope, 58, was instrumental in the formation of the Mount Holly Black History Committee and served as its first chairman in 2003. He is still chairman and organizes annual Black History forums every February to celebrate Black History Month. The Black History Committee was the first African-American organization to get the Mount Holly Community Service Award in 2007.

Hope also helped raise funds for the development of a granite monument adjacent to the entrance of Rollins Apartments on South Hawthorne Street. The monument commemorates the former Rollins Elementary School that was the only school for black students in Mount Holly. A brick will be installed on the sidewalk of Hawthorne Street recognizing Hope’s accomplishment as Man of the Year.

From 1990-2008, Hope worked for the city of Mount Holly as a utilities crew leader, code enforcement officer and community development inspector.

Henry Massey, who nominated Hope, said “Hope’s energy and leadership have played a major role in promoting community involvement and awareness in the history of Mount Holly.

“His continuous vision and love for Mount Holly is at the forefront of his many efforts to keep us aware of our past and the role it played in making our city the wonderful place it is today,” he added.

While Hope has devoted his time to many local organizations, he has also been battling health problems for many years. In 1999, he received a kidney transplant and the organ worked well up until 2006, when he had to begin dialysis treatments three times a week in Charlotte.

Hope is awaiting a second kidney transplant, but has been on the inactive recipient list, due to heart complications. He was expected to be on the active recipient list by the end of May.

Some days are tough for Hope, but he relies heavily on faith to get him through it.

“Prayer changes things,” he said. “I believe in lightening striking twice. It struck me twice. It struck before for a kidney and I know it is going to strike again.”

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