Taste of Hope celebrates students in recovery

Hope Academy, the recovery high school supported by Fairbanks, celebrated another successful Taste of Hope by raising over $39,000.

The annual fundraising event, this year held on Feb. 12 in the Fairbanks Recovery Center, was attended by more than 200 supporters and featured delicious cuisine by eight local food establishments:

  • Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano
  • Chef Suzanne Catering
  • Meridian Restaurant
  • Pierogi Love Indy
  • Rick’s Cooking School
  • Shoefly Public House
  • Sodexo
  • Tastes of Africa Catering Services

Shoefly was voted Best Taste for its cider-braised brisket, fig mostarda and grits, and Sodexo won Best Presentation for its blackened beef filet crostini with balsamic onion jam served over roasted beet salad with candied pecans and goat cheese croutons.

Piazza Produce, the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown and Cadillac Coffee donated desserts and coffee.

The 2017 Taste of Hope had 40 sponsors contribute $29,000 to Hope Academy. Platinum sponsors were Irving Materials, Inc. and Precision Labs, and the Indiana/Kentucky/Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters was a gold sponsor. The event, emceed by RTV6 News personality Rafael Sanchez, also included Bags of Hope – featuring donated goodies like coffee and gift cards – and artwork created by Hope Academy students.

Money raised through Taste of Hope helps offset the cost associated with educating each student at Hope Academy, which is a tuition-free public charter high school. Hope Academy receives $13,000 per student from the state, but it costs $21,000 to educate one student for a whole school year.

Barb Elliott, president and CEO of Hope Academy and Fairbanks, noted during Taste of Hope that Hope Academy is the only recovery high school in Indiana and, collectively, its students have more than 2,500 days of sobriety.

“With increased lengths of sobriety, we see an improvement in academic success, which has been demonstrated by improved passing rates on this year’s ISTEP and ECA exams,” Elliott said.

Hope Academy senior Ian Lewis shared his story of recovery as keynote speaker for the event. His struggle with addiction started young, when hanging out with people who used drugs. His own use continued escalating to the point of despair. A spiritual retreat helped Lewis admit he had a problem and ask for help, which led him to treatment.

Following treatment, it was suggested that he attend a recovery high school. That led Lewis to Hope Academy, where he’s not only stayed clean, but has thrived. He’s now attending college part-time with plans to study veterinary medicine.

“We, as a community, are not broken kids or delinquents,” Lewis said of his peers at Hope Academy. “We are struggling with a disease that has no cure. We do, however, have the dream of bettering ourselves and our chances in life. Hope Academy provides the catalyst that makes that dream attainable.”

For its 10th anniversary last year, Hope Academy inaugurated its Faces of Hope Award, which annually honors individuals and organizations who’ve made a positive impact on the school. The 2017 honoree is Malcolm Pownall, a retired banking executive who served on Hope Academy’s board from 2005-14 and is still part of the organization’s finance and marketing committees.