Originally Published: August 12, 2014 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - For the past three years, a growing network of service organizations has been putting the hope into the Prescott festival scene.
Jaye Lene Long, project coordinator for the annual Hope Fest, said the aim of the event is to remind those facing life's hurdles - be it recovery, abuse, depression, divorce, grief, homelessness, post-traumatic stress, or job loss - that help is out there.
"It's a springboard for a community to wrap (arms) around one another," Long said of the festival. "It's about getting people to ignite their hearts - we're all neighbors."
Oftentimes, Long said, people in trouble "become kind of an island."
As a ministry leader (along with her husband David Long) for the Celebrate Recovery effort at the Heights Church, Long is well-versed in the power of a helping hand.
And she says Hope Fest strives to multiply the impact by bringing together dozens of organizations for a free community resource fair on the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza. This year's event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 20.
More than 100 local organizations, businesses, churches, and governmental entities have signed on as participants for the 2014 event. Among them: the Yavapai Food Bank, NACOG (Northern Arizona Council of Governments), United Blood Services, AZ Department of Veterans, and West Yavapai Guidance Clinic.
While she acknowledges that the Hope Fest's scope is broad, Long said organizers strive to be inclusive and collaborative. Features of the festival include everything from a "Pack the Truck" effort to collect warm winter gear for the Warm for Winter program, to bicycle safety by the Yavapai Health Services.
Part of the motivation for the festival springs from a desire to be a part of a solution, Long said, rather than merely complaining about the problem.
"You hear people all the time saying, 'I wish, I wish,'" she said. "Well, you know what? Do something."
The event has flourished over the past three years - starting with a simple goal of putting on a faith-based summer concert on the Plaza, and ultimately evolving into a full-day festival that includes about 100 booths, a family fun zone, and a roster of local and national faith-based musical performers.
The booths will offer a variety of resource information, food, and merchandise for purchase.
Along with the number of participants, the event's attendance has also swelled. While the first Hope Fest attracted about 2,000 people, Long said nearly 5,000 attended the most recent event.
She stresses that although Hope Fest has a serious mission, it is also an entertaining event for the whole family.
"We want to have a fun, informative festival," Long said. "This is one day for people to come down and have a fun family festival."
The festival's Family Fun Zone will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sept. 20, and the Hope Fest main stage will run from noon to 9 p.m.
Hope Fest is a non-profit effort, and Long said sponsors help to make the event possible. A news release lists Lamb Chevrolet and Good Samaritan Society as among those who have signed on as sponsors. More information about sponsorships is available by calling 928-387-4673, or online at www.HopeFestAZ.com.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks.