By Jeff Parness*
February 21, 2016
Yesterday was one of the greatest, most meaningful, and most emotional days of my entire life and a day I will never forget for as long as I live.
Yesterday, we had the privilege to paint Stars of HOPE® with survivors of the San Bernardino terrorist attack and some of the families who lost loved ones that terrible day two and a half months ago. We painted Stars of HOPE with little boys and little girls who lost their fathers and their mothers in an act of pure evil. We painted Stars of HOPE with wives who lost their husbands, husbands who lost their wives. We painted Stars of HOPE with extraordinary people young and old who went to a training session and holiday party and watched in sheer terror as their work colleague opened fire on them with pure evil.
My heart is broken for these beautiful people and I cannot thank them enough for letting us into their hearts and allowing us to be one of the first steps in a lifelong journey of healing. Please continue to pray for them and their families and colleagues who are still experiencing the fear every night in their dreams, some who are still in the hospital, and some afraid to leave their homes. I witnessed pain yesterday I have never seen or felt or could truly describe. BUT I ALSO EXPERIENCED HOPE I COULD NEVER IMAGINE.
We thought this project and get together would last 20 to 30 minutes. It lasted two and a half hours and then continued at a group dinner. But the most extraordinary thing we all experienced yesterday was LAUGHTER. Two and half months after one of the most horrific terrorist attacks in U.S. history, the people in this room were also laughing. In between the tears, the long hugs, there was laughter. Please enjoy these photos. Please continue to pray for these survivors and their families. And please try and listen to the laughter in the room as these extraordinary people painted these beautiful STARS OF HOPE.
*Jeff is the Founder and Executive Director of New York Says Thank You Foundation. Stars of HOPE® is a registered trademark of New York Says Thank You Foundation.