EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An international community healing arts program stopped in the Borderland Sunday afternoon, in an attempt to visit as many communities facing the impacts of tragedy.
‘Stars of Hope‘ is a unique disaster response program that has been touring the United States in a unique bus in hopes of lifting communities who are suffering from tragic events.
It was started by Jeff Parness, who lost a close friend in the 9/11 attack. He hung the first stars 12 years ago in Greensburg, Kansas in the wake of a devastating EF5 tornado.
Onboard the bus is Matt Deaton, a survivor of the Greensburg tornado and Director of Operations, Josh Garcia, who was a manager at Pulse Nightclub.
“Personally, it just struck me at my core to remember the feelings of the day after, the hours after, the months after, the years now what they’re going to start going through of feeling what happened that day and not being able to forget. We’re just letting them know they’re not alone,” Garcia told KTSM.
Each community that has been touched by tragedy uses the opportunity to pay it forward to the next community through art therapy. That’s why survivors of Sandy Hook Elementary, Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, Pulse Nightclub, and San Bernadino paint bright and colorful stars to give people hope in the aftermath of tragedy.
Volunteers sent hundreds of hand-painted stars to the El Paso Walmart makeshift memorial in the wake of the August 3 shooting.
“Stars of Hope: says it has more than 100,000 volunteers around the world helping over 260 communities and 27 countries.