If you attended last year’s StarFire Festival or are planning on attending this year’s event, you know that there will be plenty of exciting things to do, including several stages of music, comic books, yoga workshops, eating contests, food trucks galore, cosplay contest, beer pong, virtual reality and more.
But, what about the charity being benefited behind the event? Enter Starfire Festival’s charity of choice, Hope House Foundation. We tossed a few questions at their Director of Development, Elena Montello.
AltDaily: Why has Hope House partnered with Starfire?
Elena: We were approached by the guys in Galaxy Dynamite (TNT Productions) who puts on this festival and it’s in its 2nd year and they approached us because of our strong partnership reputation and because of all that we do in our local community. We were thrilled to be partnering with them and will be for years to come. This is a new event that has many legs and is a draw for a lot of different individuals and for us this is ideal, as we love to be part of something from the ground up – as you know, we are extremely grassroots and have to be creative in building our community awareness and this festival will put our name out to so many people who may otherwise not know about us and what we do.
Does the community, in your opinion, fully realize how important they are to keeping organizations like Hope House around and thriving?
I believe we live in a very proactive community and we are very lucky that our citizens value their nonprofits. I truly believe that our neighbors value what we do and what we bring to their neighborhoods. Norfolk is a wonderful place where everyone engages at some level to support their fellow man.
Who does Hope House serve? What are the stats that bring the impact to life?
Hope House Foundation provides over 100 men and women with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities the opportunity to live in their own apartments and participate in the communities in which they’ve chosen to live. Many of those we serve have come from state-run institutions and are enjoying life on their own for the first time. The impact on these men and women, while measurable in a technical sense, is immeasurable in terms of the quality of life and independence they experience for the first time.
The quantified results of the past year speak for themselves:
- 100% have maintained safe and stable housing for at least 12 consecutive months;
- 60% pursued community resources and activities on their own;
- 57% developed what they considered quality, healthy relationships;
- 60% participated in community service or civic activities.
Tell us about the Assistive Technology program. How is it changing live of those most in need of help, right here in town?
Now, Hope House is undertaking a new initiative that promises to revolutionize the lives of many we serve. “Assistive Technology,” especially when coupled with the capabilities of the internet and other technological advances, allows people with cognitive and/or physical challenges to experience a level of safety and independence unimaginable as recently as a decade ago. In a pilot project we completed this year, one man who has no use of his arms and legs has been able use such advancements as Google Home and Alexa to operate his kitchen appliances, function more safely in his own apartment and look forward to a life he had thought impossible. In his words: “For the first time, I can do many things for myself and don’t need people to help me all the time. I’m ready for the next step: a girlfriend!”
StarFire Festival 2
A free charity benefit for Hope House Foundation hosted by O’Connor Brewing Co.
April 21 @ 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Galaxy Dynamite, TNT Entertainment & O’Connor Brewing Co.
In Partnership with 96X, WHRO, Veer Magazine, VA Growler, 13News Now – WVEC and tHRive
For more information about the event visit Oconnor Brewing.