As with many conversations, today’s interview started out rather casually with no predetermined outcome in mind.

Jaye Lene Long and I have been acquainted rather casually over the past 25 years or so since her time working in marketing for The Daily Courier.

Originally from Amarillo, Texas, Jaye Lene would spend her youth between Phoenix and Texas, the latter of which would become home prior to moving to the Prescott area.

“I wanted my boys to experience the openness that I did in Texas and live in the county.” Jaye Lene explains. “When you grow up in the country, you can always visit or move to the city. But very rarely growing up in the city, do you have the opportunity to experience the open landscape and country.”

Perhaps it was this understanding that not everyone has the same experiences or opportunities that drew her and her husband, David, then-leaders of Celebrate Recovery, to follow their vision of creating Hope Fest Arizona in 2011.

Begun as an extended outreach of Celebrate Recovery, a wide reaching, welcoming, and all encompassing collective that provides a safe haven for discussing the challenges and offers the resources when confronted with dependency issues such as chemical, domestic abuse, codependency and unhealthy relationships.

Since its inception, Hope Fest Arizona has grown to become the largest single-day event that brings together more than 6,000 individuals with the resources of support and gives attendees the tools to move forward on their path to whatever recovery may mean to them.

As a resource opportunity, Hope Fest Arizona provides services for veterans, active military, military families, first responders, and anyone with a need to find access to support and resources.

This free-to-the-public community event is simply that, community.

While a faith supported program, Hope Fest is open to everyone and anyone. “We all are carrying our own challenges and Hope Fest is an opportunity to come together as a community and explore the resources that are available to us, or a loved one,” Jaye Lene said.

Prescott Shelter Services, Polara Health, Fire Safety Essentials, First Things First, American Red Cross, Catholic Social Services, Soldiers Best Friend, U.S. VETS and Yavapai CASA for Kids are a few of the organizations that provide information. There is also an opportunity for those in need to receive a complimentary hair cut.

With the courthouse plaza in downtown Prescott broken into quadrants, the veterans and first responders services area can help a vet find the resources to beginning or following up on his or her benefits; the family resource area offers assistance for those in or wanting to assist with those in a potential domestic abuse situation.

The Family Fun Zone offers respite and activities, while on the main stage, live music begins at 1 p.m. with local entertainment, culminating with headliners — Building 429 — at 8 p.m.

There is a certain humble enthusiasm and passion that Jaye Lene emits when discussing Hope Fest and why she continues to take on the workload of producing such a unique and beneficial event.

This is where her story becomes a testament to the meaning and benefit of Hope Fest, in a very personal and intimate way. After our sit down, I asked Jaye Lene if I could share this part of her story that speaks to the strength of faith, caring and the power of community.

“I moved to Prescott with my two youngest boys, who were twins and their brothers,” Jaye Lene said. Later in life three of her four sons would serve in the military.

During Hope Fest’s sixth season, Jaye Lene and her family were dealt a blow that would cause many to walk away and draw into themselves. Over a period of 18 months, she lost her twin sons, active duty U.S. Army Staff Sergeant and Purple Heart recipient, Travis Selinsky, and later his brother, Brandon Selinsky, U.S. Army staff sergeant.

As a Gold Star Family, Jaye Lene offers this: “I choose to share and talk about my boys — they die a physical death, but when they are no longer talked about, they die again.

“We can all be free of hurts, habits and hang-ups, and as leaders of Celebrate Recovery, our obligation is to meet people where they are.”

She added, “It’s not only for addictive behavior, but in some form we are all living a recovery life — whether dealing with pain, anger or pride … we are all dealing with some form of recovery.”

Hope Fest is an opportunity to bring people together through a celebratory atmosphere and experience the ability to be helped, or to help through community.

Hope Fest’s Mission “is to serve: veterans, active military, first responders, their families, and the vulnerable of Yavapai County through the HOPE Serves Family Resource Fair. Our objective is to unite, mobilize and serve by connecting people to solutions in the areas of: education, housing, recovery, domestic violence, suicide prevention, mental, social and health care, family support, veteran and first responder family services, youth advocacy, adoption, foster and elder care, employment services, volunteering opportunities, and many more change-driven resources!”

Hope Fest Arizona takes place Saturday, Aug. 19, on the courthouse plaza beginning at 10 a.m. with a car show, family activities, the Hope Serves Family Resource Fair, with live entertainment beginning in the afternoon featuring Sky Daddy and the Soggy Bottom Band, The Flock, The Scally Brothers, and more.

For more information, to donate, or sponsor, visit HopeFestAZ.com or on Facebook.

Barry Barbe owns the El Gato Azul and Torme restaurants in Prescott, and is the energy and insight behind the Prescott Palette. His radio show, the Prescott Palette, is on KQNA 1130 AM, Saturdays at noon. Email: Prespalette@gmail.com.

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