Join us for the 10th Annual Deon Lewis Memorial Hope Run on Oct. 8!

The 10th annual Deon Lewis Memorial Hope Run is one month away, and we could not be more excited!

Also known as the Neon Deon Run, our 5K fundraiser seeks to raise support and awareness for single parents as they pursue higher education, pull themselves out of poverty, and forever change the trajectory of their lives.

“At H.O.P.E, our mission is crystal clear: empower single parents, transform lives, and break the cycle of poverty for single parent families,” Kenita Smith, founder of H.O.P.E. Inc., says. “Every step in the Neon Deon Run is a stride towards brighter futures for single parents. Your run becomes their hope.”

The race will take place on Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. ET at McDaniel Farm Park in Duluth, Georgia. We hope you will participate and celebrate with us, along with your family! The kid-friendly event is superhero themed and will include a costume contest, raffle, prizes, and a fun run for children.

If you can’t attend the 5K in person, the event will be available virtually from Sept. 25 through Oct. 6. To register for the virtual event, you can visit the run’s website for more information.

Our hope is that this fundraiser will not only be a fun, meaningful experience for all — but that it will spur on our mission to help low-income single parents complete their degrees. Since 2011, we have been able to support 108 single parents and 239 children. Of the graduated participants, the average single parent’s income has increased by over $25,000 from when they began the program!

Through opportunities like the Deon Lewis Memorial Hope Run, you can come alongside us in bolstering single parents as they work to change their lives through higher education, for generations to come.

“As we gear up for the 10th Annual Deon Lewis Memorial HOPE Run, our hope is to not just cross the finish line, but to cross the boundaries of what’s possible for our community,” Smith says.

Whether in-person or virtually, we hope to see you there!


Aurelia is a 43-year-old single mother to two teenage sons living in Sugar Hill, Georgia. When she went back to school to become a dental hygienist at Fortis College, Aurelia struggled to keep up with rent and other finances. Through her participation with H.O.P.E. Inc., Aurelia not only received support that allowed her to keep her home and stay in school, but it taught her how to budget and maintain financial health beyond graduation.

Working as a dental assistant for over 20 years, Aurelia knew that she wanted to one day pursue her degree to become a hygienist. “I wanted to go back to school, since I was burnt out from my old job,” she says. “I knew I wanted to do something more in dentistry.”

However, attending school and keeping up with her bills proved difficult. Aurelia found herself refereeing sports games on the weekends to help cover her monthly expenses, but it still wasn’t enough to make ends meet. As a single parent, she also wasn’t receiving support from her childrens’ father to help get by. “I started to wonder, how am I going to do this?” Aurelia says.

Client situation:
It was around this time that Aurelia’s college program director sent an email referring her to H.O.P.E. Inc. Looking them up, she was encouraged by H.O.P.E.’s mission and dedication to financial assistance for single parents. After applying and meeting with Kenita Smith, H.O.P.E. Inc.’s founder, she was chosen and became the program’s 100th participant!

“That answer — getting into the program — was really special,” she says. “It saved my house, and it kept me in school.”

H.O.P.E. Inc. was able to provide Aurelia $400 a month in rent assistance, helping her maintain her housing bills. However, the program’s support did not stop there. Through monthly budget coaching, resume writing courses, and professional and life development coaching, Aurelia learned how to manage her resources and set goals for the future. “The program doesn’t just support you, but it helps you support yourself,” Aurelia says. “I’ve become a stronger person because I can utilize my budget and see where my money goes. I’ve learned valuable life lessons.”

On July 14 this year, Aurelia graduated from Fortis University at the top of her class, winning the award for top clinician. She recently passed her national board exam, and she currently has a job lined up post graduation.

“It’s been a wonderful experience — it’s been life changing,” Aurelia says. “That’s why as a postgrad, I’m going to give back so that H.O.P.E. can continue to help other people that are in a similar situation.”

“H.O.P.E. feels like having a big sister or family that is there to support and guide you as you go through school, giving you the tools you need. When you don’t think there’s anyone out there that can help you or understand what you’re going through, the program gives you that feeling of being understood and loved by others who are going through the same thing and have the same goals. You are not alone.” (Aurelia, 2023 Graduate)

Taibat (Tai)

Tai is a 56-year-old single mother to a 14-year-old son living in Georgia. A recent graduate from Chamberlain University, Tai was struggling to keep up with her bills when she had just started her nursing classes. When she discovered H.O.P.E. Inc.’s program online, she was hopeful that the program could help her finish her degree without fear of financial burden.

After experiencing a divorce in 2016, Tai moved to Georgia from Chicago. She had been working as an office assistant to pay the bills, but she didn’t enjoy her day-to-day work and wanted a career she loved. Deciding to go back to school to get her nursing degree, Tai enrolled at Chamberlain University. However, as she progressed further into her new education, Tai found that her tuition bills were high and she was fighting to keep up with her payments.

“I wasn’t making enough money, and I got to a position where I needed help so badly,” Tai says. “And that is when I ran into H.O.P.E. online.”

Client situation:
Tai was desperately searching for assistance when she discovered H.O.P.E.’s program on the internet. “I was praying to God for help,” she says. “I needed a divine intervention. I was searching for rental assistance online, and H.O.P.E. popped up. That’s how I came to be a participant. I had no referrals. I found it online by the grace of God.”

When Tai first looked at H.O.P.E.’s program, she didn’t think it could be real. The financial assistance seemed too good to be true, but she decided that it was worth a shot to apply anyway. Within 48 hours, Tai was surprised to hear back from Kenita Smith, H.O.P.E. Inc.’s founder. “And I’m so glad she did,” Tai says. “Because she gave me the best opportunity to be able to finish school. I’m so grateful for that.”

After Tai was accepted as a participant, she received immediate financial assistance. H.O.P.E. found her a donor that contributed $10,000 to her tuition, and later on the program did additional fundraising to provide Tai $5,000 more. This financial assistance, paired with extra rent funding, gave her the extra hand necessary to continue to pursue her education without anxiety. “If God did not use Kenita to help me, I might not have been able to complete school,” Tai says.

Tai graduated with her nursing degree from Chamberlain University in April 2023, and now is studying to receive her official license. With H.O.P.E.’s support, she has been able to lift off her financial burden and have more time to spend with her son and work toward her dreams. Today, she is excited and ready for what the future holds!

“I’m going to be saying it forever, but I am so grateful. I received far more than I went in for. Kenita takes in every participant like family, and I pray that God will continue to bless everything that she sets her heart on to do. There is no program like H.O.P.E.” (Tai, 2023 Graduate)