Many beer enthusiasts ride bicycles — whether for commuting, exercise, or just for fun. In Portland, Christian beer enthusiasts Jenna Forstom & Emily Daman have seen a few too many cyclists struggling to find ways to carry their growlers from breweries or bottle shops, to their final destinations. Hop Hands mission is to deliver quality beer transportation products, which encourage environmentally friendly choices and help give back to the community. Hop Hands is a simple growler carrying devices that straps onto a bike, or can be carried by hand.
I was able to sit down with creators Jenna & Emily to talk with them about their project and their desire to give back to the community through what I have named “volun-beering.” They created this project as a way for their volunteering to come together with their love of beer and their Christian faith. These women are living out the Gospel daily. They embody what Pope Francis is calling us to do.
1. Tell us what the purpose of your Hop Hands Kickstarter is.
Hop Hands is a simple and easy way to carry a growler of beer on your bicycle. It attaches five different ways to a bike and if you don’t have a bike (or aren’t currently biking) Hop Hands is still a simple and easy way to carry a growler of beer. No more uncomfortable finger holding for a growler. No one likes doing that.
2. What made you decide to do this?
Jenna: Biking is really popular here in Portland (and a few other cities in the U.S.). Emily and I both bike and drink beer. It’s hard to carry a growler of beer on your bike, especially when you have a laptop, work clothes, or groceries already on your bike. The best inventions come from solving a problem. This was our problem, Hop Hands is our solution.
3. How did you get to know each other?
Jenna: We met volunteering. I was a volunteer lead and Emily’s husband was in my group, cleaning up the church. He mentioned that his wife was a grant writer and was looking for a job and our leadership had just had a meeting where we talked about needing a trained grant writer. God’s timing is perfect. Even better, Emily would become one of my best friends, join the staff at Bridgetown and she happens to love sewing. She started a sewing table at Night Strike and that is when I talked to her about making the first prototype of Hop Hands.
4. What is Night Strike?
Night Strike is a humanitarian outreach program working with low income and homeless people in Portland, Oregon. We offer immediate felt needs like clothing, food, dignity items, hair cuts, foot washes and socks, medical and dental care. You can read about it here: http://bridgetowninc.org/
5. What advice do you have for anyone learning how to publicly evangelize?
We have this saying at Night Strike, “Get to know someone’s story, then you can share your story, and you get the chance to tell His story.” I like that idea of evangelism. We also claim to be “Crockpot Christians” which is different than “Food Fight Christians.” Night Strike is the most tangible way I get to live out my faith. I serve the poor, broken-hearted, and orphaned. They also bless me in amazing ways. Plus, it gives me opportunities to talk about my faith through my volunteer work at my day job.
6. What’s your favorite story about your volunbeering?
Jenna: Emily and I volunteer with a lot of people who struggle with substance abuse issues. So we don’t talk about beer much while we are volunteering, but being a beer blogger and now an entreprenuer in the beer world and a Christian has made me have some pretty open conversations about drinking, alchoholism and faith. Which can be a pretty tricky waters to navigate. I think you can be a Christian woman, who loves people and a good pint of beer. I think honest conversations come out when people are sharing a few beers and reflecting on life and I want to be a part of that. But I also have great respect for those who are overcoming addiction and want to be their biggest cheerleaders through sobriety. Okay, that was all serious stuff.
Fun stories of volunteering — we celebrate everything under the Bridge: Birthdays, sobriety, babies, marriages, every Thursday night is a party it feels like. We wash feet under the Bridge, because Jesus did it but also because it rains a lot here in Portland and trench foot is a real thing. The first time I ever ran the Foot Washing Station, I was talking to this guy and he was telling me about his story and I sharing with him and when I finished washing his feet. He asked if he could wash mine. I was a little nervous and had a few things running through my head, but ended up thinking “What the heck, I just scrubbed his feet.” So there I am sitting in a folding chair, with this 35-year-old homeless man scrubbing my feet and all the little insecuries I had about having a bad pedicure and what not went out the window. Getting your feet washed by a complete stranger is a truly humbling experience. I think everyone needs to try it at least once in their life.
Emily: If you want another story about volunteering, for me it really boils down to knowing a person. I had a guy walk up to my station, and as I was helping him, I told him I recognized him as a man who sell Street Roots, a local newspaper sold by homeless/marginalized individuals in Portland. I work downtown, and so I am out in the area quite a bit. I had never talked with him before this point, and he was very moved that someone remembered his face. He told me that most people walk by him without acknowledging him as a person, and asked me why I would remember him of all people. This really broke my heart, and gave me insight into what it is like living on the street. I try to live out my faith how I believe Jesus would, in just sitting down with those on the margins, eating a meal, and giving a person back their humanity and dignity.
I also want to reiterate what Jenna said, in that we are Christians who try live out the Gospel by our service, but we are also Christian women who drink beer, and love that community just as much!
7. How can we find you and support you?
You can find us on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/
Not only does Hop Hands encourage environmentally sustainable transportation, but they also give back to the local community. Hop Hands plans to donate a portion of each item sold, to BridgeTown Inc, a Portland nonprofit that exists to develop and sustain relational environments that create movement within groups and individuals to demonstrate love and generosity lived out in the world. BTown Inc creates relational environments that provide Relief, Mobilization and Transformation. For more information about this nonprofit, visit their website at www.bridgetowninc.org.
Please check out Hop Hands online, and follow them on social media: