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'Hope is Here' planned for Sunday at HHS

A free event by the community and for the community to help restore hope will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25, in the Hastings High School auditorium.

"Hope is Here" has been planned by members of the Hastings community in response to the tragedies involving Hastings youths in the past several months. It is their goal to reach out to bring back the hope within the community.

"This is going to be a great night," said Doug Erickson, who was one of the people who got the ball rolling on the event.

He wondered: what could be done to reach out and help others? It turns out, some of the individual pastors in the community were asking the same questions.

Erickson asked his Marketplace Prayer Ministry (a group of community residents who meet for community prayer meetings) about how to respond. Tim Stanley of Hastings YoungLife was contacted, as was the Hastings Ministerial Association.

"This was and is a sensitive issue," said Hastings resident, the Rev. Randy Strode. "We have families who are hurting; we want this to be handled well.

"And this is a community event. We wanted it to be lay-led. The pastors would be participants, but they would not lead the evening."

Erickson said initially he was considering having the event after Christmas. That changed quickly. When Hastings High School Principal Mike Johnson was contacted, he looked at the school's availability. The high school was available this Sunday evening, and the community organizers moved ahead, also considering the timeliness of the situation.

The evening will include three video presentations, each between 10 minutes and 15 minutes in length.

Interviewed during the videos are members of the Lucas family and the Connell family (primarily Will Connell, Spencer's brother).

"Family members talk about the pain which is left behind by the deaths of the young people," said Strode. "The message is that there is hope. We can come together to give support, whether it is the schools, the churches, the governmental units, the organizations."

Naomi Latt, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer, is also interviewed.

The Overflow Band from the United Methodist Church will perform three selections. The evening will also include a time for prayers. If people want to talk individually with a minister, there will be time for that as well.

As the evening concludes, copies of a resource list will be available to those in attendance.

Andrea Kullman of Hastings Total LifeCare Center is working on the list and she describes it as "timely, not overwhelming."

The list includes the names of local organizations and individuals, school resources and community resources.

"It is to assist people, when they leave to have names that they can reach out to, if they want," she said.

The evening is for all interested. It is scheduled to last about 90 minutes.