"Hope – It’s such an appropriate name for this remarkable woman. The definition of hope is "a feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out well." With her ability to heal both body and mind, Hope McDonnell has certainly lived up to that description. What’s so amazing is her dedication to help so many people with little, if any hope left in their lives. For decades her persistence has brought healing, and hope to our community's most vulnerable.
At 20 she became the youngest social worker in the Abuse and Neglect Unit at Child Protective Services in Illinois. She came to Berkeley in 1973 continuing her work with at-risk youth in the Juvenile Justice System. She was a house-parent in a group home for delinquent boys, a crisis counselor for runaways, and a social worker with Legal Services for Children.
In the "food for people–not for profit" movement, she co-founded the Flatlands Community Food Store and Uprisings Bakery Collective. After a year of serious community organizing, she was awarded a $10,000 USDA grant and created the first Berkeley Farmer's Market in 1980.
In 1993 Hope cofounded the nonprofit Acupuncture and Recovery &Treatment Services, for inmates at SF County Jail. She started an acupuncture clinic in 1994 for HIV+ street youth at Cole Street clinic in SF for 14- to 25-year-olds. Then in 1995, collaborating with Lifelong Clinic, Berkeley Mental Health, and their Mobile Crisis Team, she launched the Acupuncture Detox Program, to serve homeless adults with substance use and mental health issues.
Hope created United for Health in 1999 continuing her passion to uplift and empower youth. Hope has been treating Berkeley's homeless /at-risk youth at the Youth Suitcase Clinic which she has operated along with UC Berkeley student volunteers since 2000.
Hope created the U.C. Berkeley Sudent Co-op Youth Wellness Program in 2006. The YWP served college students with chemical dependency and mental health issues. Inspired by the success of this program, Hope is pursuing funds for an ongoing high school Youth Wellness Program. Berkeley High's academic disparities and rates of high substance abuse have been the worst in the state of California for the last ten years. This Youth Wellness Program project could be used as a model for high schools and colleges anywhere, nationwide.