[MAY 10, 2018 | ORLANDO] On a warm sunny Saturday afternoon (April 28), a collaboration between Stars of Hope, New York Life-Tampa Office and The Life Center of the Suncoast came together to honor the families and the survivors of the Seminole Heights.
The families of Benjamin and Monica attended the event and were able to choose stars that were painted for them by New York Life employees. The stars lined the benches and railing of the old home that serves as The Life Center’s Counseling Office. Community members, Tampa Police Officers, therapist, board members and stakeholders in the community attended. There were food and beverages, Micki Wildin, spoke at the event as did Stephanie Wray, an artist and art therapist as well as representing Stars of HOPE.
The attendees were invited to paint their own Star of HOPE, to ‘pay it forward’ to survivors and communities of other human-caused disasters. The room was filled with diverse people from all walks of life, but in the end, it was more about everyday people uniting together as one community to heal. An officer was asked when the last time he painted was and he answered, “when I was a kid.” Stephanie Wray, one of the Stars of HOPE team members present at the event was struck by the impact the event had on the officer, “It was very touching to see him holding his star after he had painted it. His smile said it all and he said that painting was very relaxing,” and went on to say, “The feeling of honoring the people whose lives were taken was present throughout the day and it was a gift to be able to hold the space for this diverse and special community of Seminole Heights.”
If you would like to organize a Stars of HOPE painting event in your community, school, youth group, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you! Contact Josh Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.