Standing Ovations All Around at Heart Beat '17

Updated: Sep 8, 2018

Wow! and thank you! There was a fair amount of mutual admiration at our fundraising luncheon Sunday, as we presented awards to inspiring individuals and organizations and heard from our honorees.

Heart of HHH Awards

“Thanks to Harmony, Hope & Healing for honoring me and Lyric Opera of Chicago,” Renee Fleming shared with the group, via a recorded video played for the event by her colleagues Lyric Unlimited Director Cayenne Harris and the director of Community Programs for Lyric Unlimited Alejandra Boyer, who represented her as she was unable to attend in person Sunday. “You do such inspiring, important work that is everything I believe in: using music to heal and overcoming obstacles," Harris said in accepting the award. "Thank you for the wonderful work you do.”

Executive Director Marge Nykaza told how she first met our other honoree, Ed Shurna, when the then-new choir sang for the funeral repast of former Chicago Coalition for the Homeless director John Donahue. Ed later took on the Coalition directorship.

In that role, he told the audience, he quickly found he was working with people no different than anyone else he knew except that they had more obstacles and less opportunities. “One thing they have is hope,” he told the group. “We organized people around that innate flame inside of them.” In doing so, he organized writing classes and retreats. The retreats became the Ignatian Spirituality Project, which is still a program partner of Harmony, Hope & Healing today.

The work of Harmony, Hope & Healing is another important way to spark the flame of hope, Shurna said. “Music is helpful…. It’s really an intimate way to express ourselves,” he said, concluding, “Marge said I inspired her, but I told her that her work is inspirational to thousands across the city.”

Our stories

The event featured the stories of adults currently participating in Harmony, Hope & Healing programs. One of them, Crystal Boone, offered a testimony during the event about the process of recovery. Both Boone and Shurna received standing ovations and the applause for Fleming and the Lyric was long and loud.

The kicker, of course, is that Harmony, Hope & Healing more than met our goals for our annual spring fundraising luncheon thanks to the support of more than 200 friends and family who turned out and our many other supporters across Chicagoland and beyond.

As we shared during the event, the organization currently serves 800 people at 13 sites across Chicago and in DuPage County thanks to partnerships with 9 agencies. Our strategic plan calls for us to get to 15 sites by 2019 and thanks to the support received Sunday, we feel that we are well along the path that we have set. Thanks to all who are making this work possible!

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