Stars of Hope for Manchester
On the anniversary of the largest active shooter attack in US history, survivors of the Pulse nightclub terror attack are meeting to create a shipment of hope for Manchester.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. In a 911 call made shortly after the shooting began, Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of ISIL. It was the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in US history and also their deadliest terrorist attack since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Now survivors and the community gather to paint Stars of HOPE® specifically for the bereaved families and survivors of the Arena terror attack and the people of Manchester. Their message is to show them they are not alone and that the world is with them.
Stars of HOPE® is a unique disaster relief and community arts program that empowers children (of all ages) to transform communities impacted by natural and man-made disasters through colourful art and messages of hope and healing. Volunteers including school children, families, emergency services and entire communities paint inspirational words, messages, and designs on 1-foot wooden stars.
Founder Jeff Parness explains “These Stars of HOPE are displayed in public places in communities worldwide in the immediate and long term aftermath of tragedy serving as beacons of hope and compassion for all to see.”
Emerging from the rubble of 9/11
Started in 2003 at the suggestion of a 5-year-old boy, Evan Parness, the New York Says Thank You Foundation is a growing national and global “pay it forward” service movement that is creating transformative solutions based on survivor empowerment in disaster relief, education, and the arts. The mission of New York Says Thank You is to build hope and provide healing to people around the world as a way to continually pay it forward for the humanity, kindness, and volunteer spirit New Yorkers experienced on 9/12.
Stars of HOPE® was born when the Vincent family from Groesbeck, Texas who wanted to pay it forward for the support they received when New York Says Thank You volunteers rebuilt their home following a deadly tornado. The Stars of HOPE family keeps growing exponentially as volunteer groups and service events have sprung up all around the world.
Since the Manchester Arena attack, groups in the US have begun painting stars, including the community of San Bernardino where a terror attack killed 14 people and seriously injured many more in December 2015.
The first shipment will arrive next week and at KRTS International we are privileged to be the UK part of this operation, responsible for the distribution of stars.
We want this to be a grass roots movement that involves the whole community, emergency services and those who lost loved ones. As such we’ll be looking at placing stars in the immediate local area (places where people gather or work) as well as offering them for display in first responders’ workplaces and hospitals. Many of those who died were from further afield and we would like to offer a star to bereaved families to display in their own community at a place that feels appropriate to them.
We are now more aware of the psychological impact of events such as the Arena attack and we are proud to have trained and supervised many of the mental health professionals who provided crisis support to those affected.
As well as providing practical guidance and support for traumatic stress reactions, the mental health needs of the community can be greatly helped by providing the basic need for hope when all around is despair. Stars of HOPE® have demonstrated time and again the direct impact of their work on the immediate, mid-term, and long-term mental health and emotional needs of individuals and communities in the post-trauma recovery phase.
When the time is right, Stars of HOPE will be bringing a couple of their volunteers over to see the impact – they will themselves be survivors and this is important to their own recovery.
Trauma leaves us feeling helpless and out of control. Sometimes the smallest acts can help – giving blood, helping a stranger, random acts of kindness. These are all things that connect us with the best values of humanity when we have been faced with the worst. Painting the stars is part of the Orlando survivors’ recovery and most powerfully of all – they know the impact the stars had on them when they were devastated by an act of terror.