Because Connor Joe has played baseball since he was 5 years old, he was eager to help organize a charity softball game for the last fall.
Coordinating the event was just one of his responsibilities as an intern for the San Diego-based nonprofit organization devoted to raising public awareness about domestic violence. The recent graduate chose to work for the nonprofit for his senior project.
“I wanted to do something meaningful and make a difference,” said Joe, who played baseball for Poway High School for four years.
Operation for HOPE Foundation Founder and President Kimberly Weisz said she appreciates Joe’s commitment to the organization, which is .
“Connor is very responsible,” said Weisz, who resides in Poway. “He has an easygoing personality, and he follows through on what he says he’s going to do. It was very easy to work with him, and I felt very confident in knowing that I had his support.”
This was the first year that the nonprofit hired interns, Weisz said. Joe was one of three interns.
Joe, who described himself as Weisz’s “right-hand man,” said he was responsible for organizing two events.
The 18-year-old helped coordinate more than 20 volunteers for November’s charity softball game. More than 200 people showed up to the event, he said, which raised money for the nonprofit’s HOPE Fund. The HOPE Fund provides short-term microloans to those in violent situations.
Joe also helped organize Breakfast of HOPE, which took place in February. He said about 30 women participated in the get-together, which raised awareness for the nonprofit.
“Domestic violence is really nasty,” Joe said. “I enjoyed seeing everyone participating and giving back at the events.”
Joe said he has learned how nonprofit organizations work, but most of all, how to have compassion and understanding for others.
“Domestic violence is one of the leading problems in the United States, and it is also very dangerous because it goes unreported most of the time,” he said. “The big thing that Operation for HOPE offers is help for the victims. I think it gives victims a way out of their harm, so they won’t be scared to tell others about it.”
At the end of May, Poway High seniors were required to present their senior projects before a panel of teachers, community members and Poway High juniors. The panelists agreed that Joe learned a lot from his internship, as he received a perfect score.
“I really thought that the opportunity to work with Mrs. Weisz was awesome,” Joe said. “I could really make an impact on others’ lives.”
Joe has volunteered for Operation for HOPE before. He said he played sports with underprivileged children at a camp hosted by the nonprofit two years ago.
“I volunteered, and I loved it,” he said.
Joe met Weisz about five years ago when he volunteered to be an assistant coach of her husband’s little league team.
Weisz remembered Joe’s commitment to her triplet boys and the rest of the team members.
“I’ve always known Connor to be very responsible and to be a good kid,” she said. “I was thrilled when he wanted to be an intern for the Operation for HOPE Foundation.”
On Saturday, Joe left for Canada, where he will play baseball for the summer. In the fall, he will attend the University of Southern California on a full-ride scholarship to play baseball at the school. He plans to major in business and minor in international relations.
Joe, who hopes to be drafted into Major League Baseball, said the life lessons he learned from his internship will benefit him for the rest of his life.
“I give all the thanks that I can to Kimberly for the opportunity,” Joe said. “It was a great experience, and I learned a lot.”