Stars of HOPE is a unique disaster relief and community arts program that was launched by the New York Says Thank You Foundation in 2007. Stars of HOPE aims to transform the physical and emotional landscapes of communities devastated by acts of nature or acts of violence through the creation of art and messages of hope and healing on one-foot wooden stars. 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. The Stars are also created by communities impacted by past disasters to “pay it forward” to others who later suffer similar tragedy.
The purpose of the Stars of HOPE Impact Study was to determine the influence of the program’s service projects on participants and recipients. The evaluation assessed the impact on individuals that have participated in, received, and/or witnessed Stars of HOPE in various settings in response to and following both natural and human-caused tragedies.
Adults who participated in Stars of HOPE were invited to take part in an online survey about its impacts. These individuals originally came into contact with Stars of HOPE through one of the following four tragedies: (1) the 2007 Greensburg, Kansas tornado; (2) the 2015 San Bernardino terror attack; (3) the 2017 wildfires in Santa Rosa, California; and (4) the 2016 Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida. Contact information for 100 individuals (25 for each of the four tragedies) was provided by the New York Says Thank You Foundation. Individuals were invited to participate in the survey via email between June and July 2018. The overall response rate for the survey was 62%.
Online survey questions assessed how respondents’ felt about various elements of their participation in the Stars of HOPE Program, and whether they perceived that the Stars of HOPE program impacted their lives in positive and meaningful ways. The online survey and consent procedures were reviewed and approved by Florida State University’s Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects Committee).
Overall, participants had highly favorable views and experiences with the Stars of HOPE program. The findings of this study suggest that Stars of HOPE can help people affected by tragedy feel more optimistic, supported, and connected to others.
Principal Investigator: Jillian J. Turanovic, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: Krista Flannigan, J.D.
Funding Agency: New York Says Thank You Foundation