On stage at REAL Life's Portraits of Hope Gala

Portraits of Hope Gala preview benefiting REAL LIFE 

Hope is a powerful thing.

When you’ve experienced challenges or barriers to success, hanging on to that little bit of hope can be the drive you need to rise up and reach for change. It’s that inspirational and aspirational theme that drives REAL LIFE’s annual flagship fundraising event, the Portraits of Hope Gala.

REAL LIFE is a nonprofit that was born out of the Richmond City Justice Center and has turned into a standalone program outside of the jail’s walls – helping formerly incarcerated individuals transition back into our community with a wide array of support services to help reduce recidivism.

To help fund the program’s housing, mental health services, classes and groups, transportation assistance and overall case management, REAL LIFE hosts the Portraits of Hope Gala.

“Last year, we raised around $35,000 to support the organization, and this year we’re hoping to beat that,” said Sarah Scarbrough, Ph.D., founder of REAL LIFE.

This year’s keynote speaker is Katherine Wintsch, CEO of The Mom Complex and author of the acclaimed self-help book, “Slay Like a Mother.” Wintsch also is a volunteer with REAL LIFE, working with female lifers.

“The Portraits of Hope Gala is an incredible opportunity to support a meaningful organization,” Scarbrough added. “It’s going to be a very fun night – great food, great cocktails, an awesome band, a silent auction. You’ll get to meet folks from our programs and hear their stories of success.”

The event programming will be short and sweet but will be emceed by Micah “Bam Bamm” White. Silent auction items are being added all the way up to the event, but include handmade art by Lifers (with help from local artist Erin Cross) and a luxury bed from Box Drop RVA. The awesome band, ANA, does a lot of modern rock covers that we’re here for (we were sold at Jimmy Eat World and Bon Jovi covers).

This year’s gala will be held on Wednesday, May 25 at the Science Museum of Virginia. Tickets are $40 for an individual and $75 for a couple. Sponsorships start at $300 and go up to $3,500. Attendees also can add a supplemental donation at checkout. Purchase your tickets by Wednesday, May 18 here.

If you can’t make the gala, but want to support the REAL LIFE program, you still can get involved. Show your support, and follow the program on Facebook and Instagram.

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