Illuminating a Better Tomorrow – How it All Started

Illuminating a Better Tomorrow – How it All Started

In 2024 |  will there be more

Let’s go back to 2014 when it was looking as if it had the potential to be We Survive’s last year with Sharon and Moody Cecil at the helm.  With the 20th Anniversary celebration,  it was time to revitalize the organization or conclude the year with a huge finale.

Sharon and Moody Connection

When Sharon moved to Louisville in 1969, I thought it was a temporary situation but Louisville has been my home ever since.  At that time, I also didn’t know that Girl Scouts would become an important part of my life and an organization that influenced who I have become; where I learned about the gift of working with youth and found opportunities to mentoring future leaders.

Moody’s Amazing Vision offered a Guiding Light for many.  He believed that when you give, you are given an opportunity to change lives.  His interests were geared towards being a naturalist.  Moody became a Master Gardener, was the Arbor Day Poster Contest Coordinator for the State of Kentucky and a Forest Stewart.

As cancer survivors, Moody and I combined our talents along with our years of experience in healthcare and volunteering for various organizations throughout the community that lead to the creation of We Survive.

Moody was a fierce champion for both the young and old. With his extraordinary love of nature, it was decided Moody and I would create an organization that would offer health and wellness programming that provided “nurturance in nature.”

We Survive LIGHTFEST Connection  – Youth-driven programming

In 1994, WE SURVIVE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education to the community, break stereotypes, inspire strong youth leaders, and bring hope a gift of empowerment to those they reach. 

In 1997 – LIGHTFEST – held at Churchill Downs – was born from the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay.  Several of the girls who helped create the original LIGHTFEST are still involved with programming to this day. 

The following was written by ~Brittany Zinsious Kinder  when she was 15 years old. Her Girl Scout Troop began working with We Survive when they were 11 years old.  

“I promised myself I would push away their past and accept them for who they made themselves to be.  I promised myself to always try to recognize the sense of innocence from which may only be seen from within.” 

I believe what Brittany wrote is something we all learned working with each other and especially working with Moody Cecil. 

2023 Concluded with A two year 25th Anniversary Celebration of LIGHTFEST

The focus for this celebration was to Showcase Youth.

VolunteerMatch sent an introduction from Alyssa V, a young woman wanting to join the LIGHTFEST team to Light the World with Hope.  He enthusiasm and skills were just what was needed.   

Alyssa’s main goal was to have a project that would help her apply to college and solidify her interest in the field of psychology.  Her strength was in writing but was open to producing art.  She let me know that she was good at making slideshows and marketing flyers that might be helpful in designing educational materials.

Alyssa designed a creative invitation that conveyed the message with graphics and wording that was perfect for the Kick-off event held in July of 2023. 

Basketball deLIGHT

We Survive concluded the 25th Anniversary activities for LIGHTFEST on November 4, 2023,  with a basketball activity coordinated by Phillip Morrison Pro Basketball Skills Trainer  and  Hoops for Christ.

Graphics Created by Mississippi Student Alyssa V.

KINDNESS KAMPAIGN – Illuminating a Better Tomorrow

This project will be a collaborative effort of Sharon Cecil and Alyssa V. along with an advisory board whose members come from a variety of educational backgrounds with a passion for the health and wellness of the community.  

There are those who hold degrees and certifications in  Nursing, Psychology, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Grief Management, Medicine, Business and Education.  

deLIGHT event Ignites Hope

deLIGHT event Ignites Hope

LIGHTFEST 2023 – Basketball deLIGHT

On November 4, 2023, We Survive concluded the 25th Anniversary activities for LIGHTFEST.  A basketball activity coordinated by Phillip Morrison Pro Basketball Skills Trainer  and  Hoops for Christ was held at  Westport Road Baptist Church gym.    

The Purpose of LIGHTFEST 2023 – November 4 Basketball deLIGHT

  • Educate on the importance of civic engagement  
  • Bring awareness of Poverty to the community
  • Inform on the importance of mental health to overall wellbeing

Graphics Created by Mississippi High School Student Alyssa V.

In working with young people, it is obvious there is a sense of Hopelessness  permeating our existence, leading to all sorts of mental and medical consequences. With lives and jobs being lost, mass shootings and suicide statistics increasing in the younger population, bleak outlooks are on the rise. It is important for us to spread a message of hope.

“Sport is, and will always be, connected to art.”

Light the World with Hope! “It ups their self-esteem, it gives them the opportunity to learn something 

about the artistic part of sports and activities.”  ~~Sharon Cecil WDRB-TV Louisville, KY

THANK YOU Volunteers/Volunteer Organizations

LIGHTFEST Ambassadors 

Olivia Bohler – LIGHTFEST Ambassador and LIGHTFEST Spokesperson

Sunshine Joe Mallard – Honorary LIGHTFEST Ambassador 


Phillip Morrison

Hoops for Christ

Westport Road Baptist Church


Roosevelt Fenelus – NuLou – website


The Power of Mentoring to Inspire

The Power of Mentoring to Inspire

We Survive has been an ardent believer in providing mentors to our volunteers, giving the opportunity for the mentor and the mentee to change lives while they give back to the community.  Our formula for mentoring has been: “YOU + YOUth = Today’s Hope

“Speaking or writing with Positive Words a Powerful way to promote your idea!”  ~~Linda Surbeck

Words have a powerful place in our world.  When communicating with a mentee, words of encouragement offer #HopeAgiftOfEmpowerment.  

Growing Up Female – In 1996, as part of a pilot program developed by Girl Scout USA called “Growing Up Female”, involved meeting with a group of 11-year old Girl Scouts and their leaders, Angela Zinsious and Cheryl Sherrard, presenting a message on health while introducing them on ways of feeling comfortable in their own body and the importance of maintaining good health and a positive attitude.

WOW (Women Offering Wisdom) Begins – Discussion with Angela Zinsious, Girl Scout Troop 1472 

This troop had been together since the girls were Brownie Scouts. Angela called to set a time for the “Growing Up Female” presentation. Their meeting was at Angela’s home because the girls had planned a slumber party after the meeting.  
The topic for this meeting seemed to be a little uncomfortable for the girls.  There was not much eye contact and few words were spoken.
Talking with Angela a few days after the meeting, she said that the girls were up all night talking about their experience and very excited about creating a project for their Girl Scout Silver Award.  

Troop 1472 Accomplishments
Troop 1472 jumped into volunteering with We Survive almost immediately.  Their first  was LIGHTFEST.  Then, the troop became involved with the pilot program for what became to be known as WOW  (Women Offering Wisdom) program that started at Wayside Christian Mission. The girls wanted to use their clowning ministry to help educate about the concepts of what became established as a We Survive Program.  
These girls were instrumental in creating many of WE SURVIVE’s events including the original LIGHTFEST born from the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay held at Churchill Downs in 1997.
They designed educational materials, produced an educational video for WOW.  In 1998, one of their greatest accomplishments was when they planned, promoted and presented  their Women In Touch Luncheon held at Churchill Downs.  

Nina Moseley, COO | Wayside Christian Mission said, “As an observer of the WOW program’s growth from inception, to original implementation with the homeless women and children at Wayside Christian Mission in 1996, I am amazed at the program’s power to positively impact the lives of both young and old in our community.”  
There must have been power in the words during that 1st meeting that encouraged these girls to work so hard for over two years to complete their Silver Award.  

The following young ladies continued to go forward with their efforts. Nikki Sherrard – Arielle Sherrard Corbett         Brittany  Zinsious-Kinder


The next story will focus on what Brittany and Nikki accomplished after they continued with WOW and what they are doing NOW.  You will also be introduced to the mentors and advisors they and other youth in We Survive programming have encountered along the way.
You will learn the importance of these resource books to We Survive Programming

2023 LIGHTFEST Tapestry Project

2023 LIGHTFEST Tapestry Project

Written by Sharon Cecil

We Survive has served the community since 1994.  In 2023, we will Ignite Hope.

The main source of volunteers for We Survive programming and events came from the Youth Performing Arts School-YPAS/duPont Manual and Scouting –Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.  Many of these young people were part of both entities. 

“There’s a thread that binds all of us together; pull one end of the thread, the strain is felt all down the line.” 

-Rosamond Marshall

2022-23 LIGHTFEST Planning

Sunshine Joe Mallard had offered to do a Commemorative Tapestry for the 25th Anniversary.  So we already had that as part of the 2022 LIGHTFEST Event.

Picture: Sunshine Joe and students at YPAS working on the Commemorative Tapestry

There were several plans.  Due to the residual of the pandemic, many organizations were a little gun shy as the community opened up to the 2022 face to face events.  As plans fell apart several times, it was not a deterrent.  As a matter of fact, it became a motivator.

People who Inspire others to Aspire   

Today, I am introducing you to Prayga Wason and Bryan Crady. You will be hearing more about extraordinary people in the next 7 months.  

In September, 2022, Pragya Wason contacted We Survive wanting to volunteer for Light the World with Hope.  We had numerous brainstorming sessions that led us to her talents.  

Picture (Left to Right): Sunshine Joe, Pragya & Sharon

Pragya has had many volunteer experiences.  Many of these experiences have been as a student at YPAS.  She is a member of Guitar Club and volunteers helping middle schoolers at Noe Middle School learn solo pieces, volunteering at concerts and music events through the Tri-M Music Honors Society, and playing ukulele with kids at Louisville Free Public Library through Out Loud Louisville.  I was taken by Pragya’s ukulele abilities.  There are plans to use her ukulele talents during activities leading up to and including the Tapestry Presentation

Pragya has been the impetus for the upcoming Tapestry Presentation with the coordination of the tapestry outline meeting and the 2022 LIGHTFEST Event -signing of the tapestry- held at YPAS/duPont Manual.  

Pragya’s talents and skills are impressive.  

Bryan Crady  Mr. Crady has served as Assistant Principal at The Youth Performing Arts School since Fall 2008.  He is a trombonist and vocalist.   Mr. Crady has served as choir and music director in churches since 1990 and has performed in many musical productions during his career. He considers each day a privilege and joy to work with students and teachers who share his love for the arts and education.

Picture (Left to Right): JC Reedy, YPAS Volunteer; Sharon Cecil, Executive Director We Survive; Pragya Wason, YPAS Student; Bryan Crady, Assistant Principal, YPAS

I believe that his love for the Arts is what drew him to the idea of the Commemorative Tapestry Project.  He gave us a piece of memorabilia that will be a large part of this Commemorative Tapestry.

Mr. Crady has been supportive of Pragya’s efforts in the coordination of this project.  

2023 LIGHTFEST – Light the World with Hope

There will be a lot of pleasant surprises at the presentation to be held in August 2023. Date TBA

LIGHTFEST & Those to Inspire Others to Aspire

LIGHTFEST & Those to Inspire Others to Aspire

It is the first week of the New Year and LIGHTFEST will be igniting the Flame of Hope from a SPARK in your heart as LIGHTFEST will continue its 25th Anniversary Celebration activities as we Light the World with Hope.

How it all got started
In 1996, Sharon Cecil met Girl Scout Troop 1472. They were working on a project –Growing Up Female. The troop became involved with the pilot program for WOW (WOW – Women Offering Wisdom) that started at Wayside Christian Mission. The girls wanted to use their clowning ministry to help educate about the concepts of the WOW program. These girls were instrumental in creating many of WE SURVIVE’s events including the LIGHTFEST born from the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay held at Churchill Downs in 1997.
LIGHTFEST is a time to come together and bring awareness to the issues accompanied by a sense of hopelessness; some being feelings of entrapment in unresolvable outcomes (ie: hunger and homelessness) with mental and medical challenges.

Recent Themes
We Survive continues to reach out to children and families through various activities and the annual LIGHTFEST event while Realizing The Power of the Dream.

“Deep within each heart

There lies a magic spark

That lights the fire of our imagination…
Feel the flame forever burn

Teaching lessons we must learn

To bring us closer to the power of the dream”

Lyrics from “The Power of the Dream”

LIGHTFEST 2022 – “Hope a Gift of Empowerment” was nontraditional with the creation of a Commemorative Tapestry designed by Sunshine Joe Mallard.  

LIGHTFEST 2023  – “Light the World with Hope” is showcasing youth and what they have done for 25 years through combined efforts with schools and other organizations assisting We Survive and LIGHTFEST to be viable entities as an intricate part of communities worldwide.  
Through a series of stories over the next 7 months, we will be introducing multiple aspects of  volunteers and their contribution to our communities (locally and globally).  We will also be acknowledging those who have mentored and advised these youth through the years.  

People who Inspire others to Aspire Today, I am introducing you to Sunshine Joe Mallard and Stacy Burks. You will be hearing more about these extraordinary people in the next 7 months.  

Sunshine Joe at LIGHTFEST 2019

Sunshine Joe Mallard “Sunshine Joe’s work sparks dialogue and chronicles the hopes and challenges facing our greater community.” ~~ The Carnegie Center for Art and History  

Sunshine Joe’s involvement with We Survive began almost 20 years ago when we had an educational display at the Kentucky Center for the Arts for Hunger and Homelessness.    In  2016-, Sunshine Joe and We Survive worked to coordinate an activity with the youth at Global Games Changes creating a tapestry “Voices.” The children learned about the art of  needle/tapestry art.  They wrote on the tapestry before its being embroidered and quilted in preparation for hanging.  
In 2023, we will be presenting a Commemorative Tapestry to YPAS-duPontManual.

Stacy Burks at LIGHTFEST 2019

Stacy Burks Stacy Burks was a nursing student when I first met her.  I took nursing students to Wayside Christian Mission for clinicals and she was one of my students who truly was moved by her experience.  
Stacy is now a nursing instructor.  She takes her students to Wayside Christian Mission on a regular basis and brings students each year to LIGHTFEST events.

On Friday, December 30, I got an invitation to a new non-profit started by Stacy who has partnered with Cristal Pollak. Stacy says, “We have been a solid team for many years now and without each other’s support Our502family would not exist. This is a dream for us both.”
How amazing is it that one of my past students who has been extremely involved in LIGHTFEST has launched a non-profit from her experience at Wayside years ago!  
Their mission “to share the love, joy and hope that so many have lost through homelessness. As long as we are able we will move… #hopelives”

2023 LIGHTFEST – Light the World with Hope Since the inception of LIGHTFEST in 1997 at Churchill Downs, the blending of organizations and schools throughout Kentuckiana has included a constant base from YPAS-duPont Manual.  One of our very first Youth Advisors was JC Reedy (Assistant to the principal at YPAS and Artistic Producer). 
Individuals and groups will continue to create activities leading up to the date of the Commemorative Tapestry Presentation Event in 2023 – Date TBA

Hope: My Favorite Word

Hope: My Favorite Word

Hope: My Favorite Word

By Sharon Cecil, RN

My  Heart is Full of

 A Gift Of Empowerment

Founded in 1994 by my husband and I, We Survive, Inc. is  a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based organization providing health and wellness education through innovative programs and events.  

Being cancer experiencers, we wanted to give hope to others.  In 1995, after Byron Crawford wrote an article on We Survive headquarters, it became known as a “Haven of Hope.”  With an emphasis on “Nurturance and Nature,” Day of Hope activities began.

As a Torchbearer for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the youth we had been working with wanted to do something for the community.  In 1997, LIGHTFEST originated at Churchill Downs bringing to life the theme from the 1996 Olympics the Power of the Dream offering inspiration and HOPE.

When  you express Hope innovatively,

you are giving courage for today 

and strength for tomorrow!


LIGHTFEST has been a youth driven event since its origination 25 years ago at Churchill Downs.

LIGHTFEST is a time to come together and bring awareness to the issues accompanied by a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

In the world today, young and old alike can carry a seed of doubt that can make us vulnerable to a sense of Hopelessness and Despair which is permeating our existence, leading to all sorts of mental and medical consequences. With lives and jobs being lost, bleak outlooks are on the rise. It is important for us all to spread this message of hope.

We will continue to Celebrate the 25th LIGHTFEST Anniversary during 2023. During the remainder of 2022 and in 2023, I am asking that everyone around the world help We Survive by being part of the LIGHTFEST Hope Glow movement giving empowerment. #HopeAgiftOfEmpowerment

There is always HOPE

There is always HOPE

Written by Randi Espinoza 6/12/22

Hope  – Feeling of expectation or anticipation of a certain (believed in) future event occurring that causes joyfulness when contemplated.

Hope is that the Reds win the World Series and the Bengals win the Superbowl this year.

Hope is that children of any age, sex, color, gender, ethnicty, or socioeconomic status can go to school without fear of being shot at.

Hope is what is foretold in the Bible about God, Jesus and heaven, and one day being taken there to live in eternal bliss forever. 

Hope is Martin Luther King’s dream.

Hope is being in your darkest hour and knowing the sun will rise again.

Hope is reaching out when depression makes you want to retreat, and someone to be there for you to talk to and to help you through.  

Hope is when the world tells you you can’t, you find a way that you can, and when the world mistreats you, respond with love, spreading hope to others.  

Hope is love.

Hope is 3 years without cutting, and the ability to resist when the urge comes.

Hope is belonging, having a family, a home, and food to eat,  

Hope is being off the streets and safe.

Hope is liberation from sex trafficing and prostitution.

Hope is beating addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Hope is the possibility of healing and miracles.

Hope is after 24 years of having MRIs to track my Multiple Sclerosis progression, this MRI will show nothing; My brain will be free of plaques (lesions) and scarring. 

There is always hope.

Author Randi Espinoza

Lighting the World with Hope – Volunteer Opportunities

Lighting the World with Hope

Our Mental Health is important to our overall health and wellbeing.  By having conversations and creating activities that stress the importance of our Mental Health we can eradicate the stigma and shame associated with mental Illness.

In the world today, a sense of Hopelessness is permeating our existence, leading to all sorts of mental and medical consequences. With lives and jobs being lost, bleak outlooks are on the rise. It is important for us to all to spread the message of hope.

Volunteers are encouraged to host an event that:

  • brings worldwide awareness to the importance of hope.
  • opens doors to educate on mental health and the importance of our overall health and wellness.
  • engages your community

Ideas for events:

Sports Activities “Purposeful Physical Play“‘

  • Basketball games
  • Ping Pong tournaments
  • Other sports games
  • etc.

Creative Arts “Clever Cathartic Creativity”

  • Painting Murals
  • Creative Writing workshops
  • Growing Plants
  • Sewing Quilts
  • Music Concerts
  • etc.

“Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow”.  ~~Kurt Vonnegut 

Social Media Support

  1. Share the message of Hope on your own Social Media Account
  2. LIKE, FOLLOW, SHARE, REPOST, Re-TWEET, COMMENT on pictures and stories shared
  3. When posting to social media please use hashtag #HopeAgiftOfEmpowerment and tag us 

Together, giving #HopeAgiftOfEmpowerment, we can change people’s lives by showing them there is HOPE in these trying times.

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

By Sharon Cecil

When I moved to Louisville in 1969, I thought it was a temporary situation but Louisville has been my home ever since.  At that time, I also didn’t know that Girl Scouts would become an important part of my life. An organization that influenced who I have become; where I learned about the gift of working with youth and found opportunities to mentor future leaders.

In 1972, having just moved into a new house, not knowing anyone and pregnant, I passed a note in church to a teen sitting behind me asking, “Do you babysit?”   This led to meeting the Osborne family, a family of eight (parents, 5 girls and 1 boy).  The five girls were pretty much the only babysitters my daughter ever knew. Nola Osborne was not only a mother, she was an active member of the community and lived right around the corner.  I looked to her as my mentor.  

Nola introduced me to Girl Scouting.  In 1974, I became her co-leader for Girl Scout Troop 77.  From the beginning, working with these young girls became an important part of who I am.  A turning point for me was during the April 3, 1974 meeting when we had taken the girls to the park. My daughter was at Nola’s house with two of her daughters.  All of a sudden, the sky became dark, there was a strange stillness, the sirens were blaring and the wind began to pick up more and more. I was scared. Nola knew what to do and made it feel like an adventure.  At this moment in time,  “the Louisville Metro Area experienced part of the worst tornado outbreak in United States history.” ~~ Courier Journal  

Nola was calm, confident and reassuring that we would ALL be Safe! WE were!!!

When my daughter became a Brownie in Girl Scouts, I took over the Troop and worked with the girls until 1985.  Then, I transitioned to advocacy with involvement in committees and being a part of new initiates for girls while returning to college.  I received an art degree and successfully became an RN while battling breast cancer over the next 5 years.  

In 1990, I began doing community wellness programming for the American Cancer Society and Kentucky Cancer Program in the high schools while continuing my advocacy with Girl Scouting with their pilot program “Growing Up Female,” a part of the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Program Box.  I mentored young women who were working to achieve their Silver, Bronze and Gold Awards.

1994 was a big milestone for my husband Moody and I, when we co-founded We Survive (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) creating a Haven of Hope for young people and families providing activities that centered around Creative Expression.

WOW (Women Offering Wisdom)  Program

As we developed We Survive, in 1996, I met Girl Scout Troop 1472.  At the age of 11, these young women were looking for a Silver Award Project and successfully started We Survive’s WOW Program while  achieving their Girl Scout Silver Award.  Nikki (Sherrard) Corbett and Brittany Zinzious-Kinder  took a leadership role and continued to be involved with WOW until they graduated high school.  They continue to have a voice until this day.

Sharon (Wells) McKean WOW Team Member says, “We Survive’s programming provided tools that helped us (Women Offering Wisdom) create transformational and inspirational societal changes with our health and wellness educational programs.  Writing, art, publishing and creating media pieces (magazines, books, pamphlets, press releases, etc.) was a wonderful learning opportunity. These experiential activities helped me become a more effective communicator and leader.”   Sharon is now a business leader in her community.

To help the girls become stronger communicators, they were each given a copy of POSITIVE POWERFUL PROMOTIONAL WORDS a tremendous resource tool for writers and speakers.

On Sunday, October 29, 2000. Girl Scout Troop 169 had a kick-off event for their Gold Award, at We Survive’s  headquarters creating a “Pink Path to Gold.”  Once the path was completed, each girl worked independently on their own project. 

Laura Adams wrote, “What the Gold Means to Me” stating, “After all, Girl Scouts are about more than just selling cookies!.”

The Golden Years
Having reached what people call your Golden Years, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with We Survive or LIGHTFEST (an annual event promoting HOPE).  Then, a young woman reminded me how important it is to continue to give voice to our youth and empower them to be whatever it is they want to be in life. 

In July, 2019, Olivia Bohler sent me an email stating she wanted to obtain service learning hours for National Honor Society (NHS) during LIGHTFEST Re-ignited (We Survive’s Flagship worldwide annual event) and create a project that would be suitable for her Girl Scout Gold Award.

Olivia started volunteering with We Survive in the 1st grade.  Now entering her senior year, she is still a very dedicated volunteer evidenced by the partnership she created with We Survive to complete her NHS service learning hours and the completion of her Girl Scout Gold Award with 2020 LIGHTFEST.
Olivia obtained her NHS hours  November 2019
Olivia completed her dream of the Gold November 7, 2020
The Gold Award was approved on December 3, 2020.  
Believing that offering opportunities for our youth provides a platform to promote health and wellness experiential learning so they can realize the Power of their Dreams, I will continue to provide Hope and Inspiration. Hope – a Gift of Empowerment

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

LIGHTFEST Reignited November 7, 2020

Written by Sharon Cecil

When we aren’t facing a pandemic, We Survive normally holds a kickoff in Louisville for the LIGHTFEST Reignited global event the first Saturday of November.

Despite COVID, we took advantage of the many ways you can reach out to others and share hope because We Survive’s LIGHTFEST Reignited believes #HopeHasNotBeenCancelled.

We Survive learned that we could keep LIGHTFEST alive inviting people to complete acts of kindness through service and symbolism all day.  Utilizing VolunteerMatch, we garnered volunteers to help by promoting on social media accounts for several months before the event which was held on November 7, 2020.

In Louisville, there usually is an in-person event with activity stations where participants are offered  instructions on how to make items along with healthful education presentations.  You can view LIGHTFEST 2019 at the following link:

Olivia Bohler, a senior in high school, took up the initiative to make sure the 2020 LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited event happened.  She had planned to work one-on-one with the women from a local homeless shelter to teach sustainable skills such as jewelry making and arm-knitting that could help them to turn it into a way to raise money through a learn and earn process.  

In 2020, this was no longer viable amid the pandemic. There was no way to ensure safe conditions that followed the guidelines within the city of Louisville.  A virtual option was not available for instruction for the women on Google Meets or Zoom due to the lack of computer access within the homeless shelters. 

In order to fulfill her goal, Olivia created “Hope Toolboxes” for members of the homeless community of Louisville where she collected items donated by different groups in Louisville that would have a substantial impact.  Resource material was included in the Hope Toolbox such as job attire and hygiene items so they work to get out of their situation. Adding on, in the Hope Toolbox, were resource pamphlets that detail job tips such as where to find jobs in the area, what to wear to the interview, interview practice questions, language to use, and an overall idea of what to expect. There are plans for this project to remain sustainable.

To see Olivia’s How to for the Hope Toolboxes, click here.

For her efforts, Olivia was named We Survive’s 2020 Youth Ambassador.

Thank you to all who made LIGHTFEST 2020 possible.