Who We Are
Filling a gap in disaster relief services
Stars of HOPE is a community arts and disaster relief initiative started by the New York Says Thank You Foundation in 2007. Stars of HOPE provides a path to healing designed by survivors for survivors. We provide research-based coping techniques and compassionate social support to those in the days, weeks, and years following a life-altering tragedy.
In response to tragedies such as mass violence and natural disasters, Stars of HOPE uses art-making in the form of a star to give hope, show compassion, and promote healing.
Create a future where mental health and emotional healing are prioritized in disaster recovery; foster an empowered network for survivors using creative art to heal themselves and instill hope in others.
We do more than what you think
Our qualified art therapists and certified emotional care responders guide survivors’ resiliency by holding a safe space for peers to express themselves while empowering one another to recover together by creating a “Star of Hope.” These one-foot wooden Stars serve as a canvas for survivors to create colorful art and messages of healing to other communities recovering from human-made or natural disasters as part of a “pay it forward” resiliency model. In doing so, we remind survivors that they are never alone.
Why we do this
Stars of HOPE is a non-profit organization that offers therapeutic art to communities impacted by natural or human-caused disasters. The goal of the program is to encourage hope and help survivors focus on emotional wellness through the creation of Stars.
The idea for Stars of HOPE came in 2007 when volunteers were deployed to provide disaster relief following a tornado in Greensburg, Kansas. In response to community needs, they created wooden stars and placed them around the community as an inspirational symbol of resilience with messages such as “You are loved” and “There will be sunshine again.” We found that participants responded very positively to this creative activity, which led them to create more. This project became so popular among those who participated it organically evolved into a response and healing tool worldwide.
Our program remains to be designed by survivors of tragedy with the added guidance of art therapists and mental health and emergency response professionals.
Stars of HOPE is established
During a rebuild with a family in Groesbeck, TX, New York Says Thank You Foundation volunteers “Pay it Forward” to a community in Greensburg, KS, with painted Stars of HOPE.
Art Continues to Heal
To date, Stars created by over 140,000 volunteers of all ages have been displayed in 283+ communities in 31 countries worldwide. Our founder, Jeff Parness, handed the baton to our new Executive Director, Josh Garcia
Where Stars of HOPE made an impact
SOH approaches disaster recovery in three phases. First, we work with local stakeholders to silently hang stars in prominent locations to support survivors’ immediate emotional needs. Then we facilitate guided community-wide healing art events, where survivors process their grief by painting Stars for other survivors-in-need. Our presence in that community is then sustained by annual and anniversary programming in order to promote long-term emotional healing.