A Retired Teacher’s Mission to Help Today’s Teens

by | Dec 2023

IN AN age where the fast-paced digital world often overshadows real-life connections and heightens mental health crises, Dora Purvis, a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience, has set out to provide a better and biblical option for today’s teens. 

Purvis’s passion for teaching has evolved into a genuine concern for the mental health of the youngest generations. Whether it be social media, a lack of outdoor activity, or exposure to environmental and pharmaceutical toxins, Purvis said her students were struggling more and more. 

“I have this strong burden for the kids, especially when I taught in the public schools,” she said. “But it’s not just the public schools; it’s all over the world. I mean, all over, even among the home-schooled children. The mental illness among children has been so terrible and nothing like when I was their age.” 

Purvis said the world her children grew up in is vastly different from the one she experienced as a child. 

“I never had to deal with social media where people are verbally attacking you or had a greater opportunity to be nasty to you behind your back,” she said. 

According to a World Health Organization study, 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year. Depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Globally, one in seven 10 to 19-year-olds experiences a mental disorder, accounting for 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group. 

To address these concerns, Purvis joined with Veronica Bratton to create Hope 4 the Future, whose mission statement reads: Hope 4 the Future is a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian organization that focuses on bringing the good news of the Gospel to our youth. Our mission is to partner with local churches and Christian organizations to reach the younger generation with the gospel, to disciple them, and to bring community transformation.

Purvis began teaching at 14 years old when she was given the responsibility of teaching Sunday school and serving as a bus captain at her local Baptist church. She has worn many hats throughout her teaching career, from home-school teacher to public school teacher. 

Bratton spent the last 21 years working with a mental health facility for troubled teens. She believes that to have the best outcomes when treating mental illness, the spiritual component must be addressed. Bratton inspired Purvis to move forward with her vision to start Hope4thefuture.net because she believed our hope could only be found in Jesus Christ. 

“I really love to see children learn. I love to be able to teach them what I know and learn,” she said. 

After over three decades of teaching, Purvis decided to retire at 57, but her retirement was not the end of her work. 

“I felt like I was done teaching,” she explains. “I needed something more.” 

With Hope 4 the Future, the goal is to host events with live music, speakers, and vendors at local public schools in neutral settings accessible to all. These events will feature people sharing their testimonies of transformation, particularly their struggles with depression and mental health, according to Purvis. The initiative aims to unite community resources, volunteers, and Christian organizations to support youth in need, emphasizing mentoring, counseling, and employment opportunities in and outside the church. 

“We’re gearing it from middle school through college age, although anybody in the community can come,” Purvis said. 

Their first event of this caliber is called Beat the Blues and is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2024, in the Robert S. Payne Elementary School Auditorium. The program will begin at 3 p.m., but Purvis said there will be vendors to get information and resources from beginning at 2:15 p.m., and again after the event, and also through her website Hope4thefuture.net. 

She hopes to expand Hope 4 the Future throughout Central Virginia and beyond. “I’d love to take it as far as the Lord wants it to go,” Purvis said. 

“We as a family really thrived here in Lynchburg,” Purvis said. “I remember when I first came to the Lynchburg area, everybody was friendly, kind, helpful, and not bothered when you asked them a question. I would go for walks, and people would wave at me. I thought that was really weird because that’s not what my experience was in my previous home in San Jose, California.” Lynchburg was a breath of fresh air. It has been an oasis compared to the many other cities where I have lived. That is why we have lived here for nearly 15 years now.

And now, Purvis has found a new way to give back to the community she loves. GN

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