Event creates emotional story of a client recovery

Aarpn Darling creating art inspired by the story of Strong.

We attended our first-ever Doing The Most Good Luncheon on May 3, in support of The Salvation Army. We’d heard it was a unique event with live music, unusual for a daytime event, but we weren’t prepared for the emotional storytelling.

The luncheon began with Major Andrew Kelly, area commander, inviting the crowd to celebrate his announcement of the successful completion of phase two of the capital campaign – its first in more than 27 years. The Salvation Army has raised more than $17 million to fund four projects to address the needs of a growing population of families experiencing homelessness, to provide spiritual care and youth outreach, to provide a women’s rehabilitation program and to renovate the downtown social service center and emergency shelter.

Then came some of the best storytelling we’ve experienced at a fundraising event.

Through video, live music and visual artistry on two stages, Ramy Antoun and Creative Arts Group presented the personal story of Roxanne Strong’s amazing success story, illustrating her journey from addiction, homelessness and despair to sobriety, and healing. While a band performed gorgeous renditions of familiar songs, the artist Aaron Darling created four separate paintings on stage. And in between the band and the artists, Strong’s recounted her story on video. The riveted crowd then watched as Strong walked on stage to finish telling her story live.

Strong recounted coming out of the woods where she’d been living, taking a bus downtown and walking up the steps of The Salvation Army emergency shelter where, she said, “Everything changed for me”. Now 10 years clean and sober, Strong works at that very shelter, welcoming clients much as she received her welcome more than a decade ago. When her family, with whom she has been reconciled, joined her onstage and presented her with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers, there was hardly a dry eye in the house. It was almost too much for us.

Throughout the story, artist  was busy painting four panels and surprised the crowd by putting them all together to form Strong’s story illustrated inside The Salvation Army’s famous shield.

According to the Salvation Army, by the end of the program, the crowd of 500 had donated $186,000 in sponsorships and donations to provide emergency shelter and wraparound services for local families experiencing homelessness.

Locally thousands of people receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through an array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, to relief for disaster victims, rehabilitation for the addicted, clothing and shelter to those experiencing homelessness and case management to help people move from crisis to self-sufficiency. Learn more about their work at Salvation Army Austin.

Photos by  Licarione Photography


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