Valentine’s Day is one of the most hotly debated celebrations in recent history. Many people relish the opportunity to celebrate love, while others scoff at the idea of this particular holiday. Regardless of the debate, the Men’s Enrichment Network of Color United group decided to host an event for the women of color. The celebration began with the planning and execution of flowers, which were delivered to each woman’s respective residence in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day. They woke up to a joyful gift taped to their door: a beautiful rose. Throughout the day, the group handed out flowers.
Each rose had a special message attached, wishing recipients a great Valentine’s Day. But this wasn’t the biggest part of the plan; more was to come the next evening. It began simply as a gathering of men and women in the Bultman Student Center, who were to be transported to a location only known to the men: Beechwood Grille, a nice restaurant with great food. Only when the group was gathered together was the location revealed. The women were pleasantly surprised as the men escorted them to vans to make the drive over to the restaurant. Beechwood Grille was fantastic.
The group was treated to large portions of salad, bread and two main meats: roast beef and chicken. The food made the money spent worthwhile. Time together was the highlight as the group, split into three tables, engaged in intense conversation throughout the night. Afterward came the most special part of the night: the affirmations that were part of the master plan. Most of the men went to the front of the group and gave affirmations, eventually encompassing all of the women. Unfortunately, some people could not make it to the event, part of a jam-packed weekend of events at Hope, but those who did attend relished the experience.
Many of the women said “thanks for thinking of us” and were genuinely surprised. Yordanos Dessie (’19) stated, “As a senior woman of color, it was so sweet to be recognized and treated by the MEN of color. It goes without doubt that we’ve done extraordinary work for the betterment of the campus community, so I was thankful to share this moment with friends, sisters and brothers on campus. We will not only honor each other, but champion for each other as well. What a beautiful noteworthy start.” This was achieved despite the amount of time between the planning and execution of ‘Project Valentine.’ Hopefully, the success of this year’s test run will lead to future successful events aimed at celebrating the women of color at Hope and giving them the love and respect they deserve.
This event has spurred a change in philosophy and relations between the men and women, and hopefully there is more in store for the future. The MEN relish the opportunity to be part of a special event, because it gave them an opportunity to showcase their creative abilities and inspire change in the Hope community. Planning for 2020’s edition has not started, as the confetti from 2019 is still falling, but the MEN plan on carrying on the new tradition of the project. Hopefully, 2020 will live up to, or even exceed, the test-run.