Project to impact Winchester community one hopeful message at a time

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After seeing the book “Signs of Hope Messages from Subway Therapy,” First Night Winchester organizers were inspired.

“How do we make this happen in our own community, we don’t have a subway here, so how do we do this?” Christine Germeyer of First Night Winchester executive director said. 

The book displays thousands of encouraging messages written on post-it notes on subway walls in major cities. Christine Germeyer knew bringing their own version of the project to Winchester would be a great way to ring in the new year at their annual New Year’s eve celebration. 

“We could probably do something like that because New Year’s eve is about hope, hope that things don’t change at all or hope that things get better,” Germeyer  said. 

Instead of post-its, the group dropped off canvases to dozens of community partners and businesses in and around Winchester. Germeyer has started each one off with a prompt. 

“If you can make the world a little better, than you have accomplished a great deal,” Germeyer said.

 And the rest is left to the community, so far over 100 canvases have been started. The Espresso Bar and Cafe in old town Winchester is already on their fifth canvas. 

“If anyone comes through these doors that may be having, or saw the news this morning or had a negative experience, all they have to do is read a message of hope, and hopefully that will change their day,” Joshua Smallwood & Lanita Byrne of Espresso Bar and Cafe said.  

Kathy Nerangis says they never expected the project to grow so large, but its popularity shows that there are so many people who need hope, and there are many who are  happy to give it. 

“So often you feel alone in your pain, in your concern or in your worry, but with this you find that so many people are in the same situations,” Nerangis said. 

First night Winchester will collect all the canvases to create a tree of hope that will be displayed on New Year’s eve, and over 500 kindness tags created by Sherando High School’s Kind Club will be given to those who come out. 

“Hope is free, hope can be found anywhere, and it should be,” Germeyer said. 

After New Year’s day the canvases will be distributed to agencies in and around Winchester. 

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