What is great about Hugs Across America?
Giving a teddy bear to a child may seem to be a small gesture. But for many of these same children, a hug is out of reach. The feel of embacing something is important as these children begin their process of recovering from that crisis. It makes a real difference to them. So Hugs Across America is great because it provides a way to do that.
Who have you hugged?
As a national charity, with chapters across the United States, Hugs Across America has provided over 410,000 teddy bears to victims in traumatic circumstances. So we’ve provided hugs by responding to the survivors of house fires, police and medical emergencies, domestic violence and natural disasters. Locally, we’ve hugged children suffering from cancer and other illnesses and relatives of homocide victims. We’ve also given hugs to children at an orphanage in Cuzco, Peru.
What was your most memorable hug?
I remember a little girl at Georgetown University’s Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology department several years ago. When the team arrived at her room I could tell she wasn’t haven’t a good day. But then the nurse gave her a teddy bear and she was all smiles. That was powerful.
Who haven’t you hugged yet that you really want to hug?
As part of a film project I’m working on, I’ve partnered with Life Pieces to Master Pieces, a charity that works with young, underserved African American males living in our nations capital. To date, LPMP has served over 750 young males and create over 1,000 masterpieces as part of their quest to transform the community. I’d really like to hug them. You can learn more about the amazing work that LPMP does on at http://www.artomaticvoyage.com/press
What was the name of your teddy bear when you were a kid?
I don’t think I had a name for it. My favorite teddy bear is one that I got as a gift from a friend when I was a senior in high school. Shortly thereafter, my nine-year-old cousin Melissa asked if she could have it, so I gave it to her. I recently asked Melissa, now in her 20’s, about the stuffed anmial. Melissa told me that she still has it and that she took it with her to her dorm when she was in college. But she also said that she didn’t have a name for the teddy bear either.
How can we learn more about Hugs Across America?
You can visit the Hugs Across America Website at www.hugsacrossamerica.net. The link for the Washington Chapter of Hugs Across America is http://www.hugsacrossamerica.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=127:hugs-futurearts-chapter&catid=34:washington-dc&Itemid=195. We’ve had all sorts of events to “raise” teddy bears. Last year we did a networking event for entrepreneurs. We’ve also had happy hours. Last year we had a teddy bear stuffing and tagging party that also raised money for Hugs Across America.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m directing and producing a film about Artomatic, a popular arts expo that’s held annually in Washington, D.C. Over 1,000 artists take over a large vacant commercial real estate buildings for a month to show their works. The event is free to the public and has been wildly successful. Over 70,000 people attended Artomatic in 2009 and several artists have really made it big, in part, because of their participation in this event. Owing to the big draw of the Artomatic, the vacant buildings that house the event often find tenents shortly after the Artomatic ends. The idea is catching on. A spin-off Artomatic was recently held in Toledo, Ohio, and other one is being planned in Houston, Texas. I’m an alumni of Artomatic myself. You can learn more about my film on Artomatic, Journey to the Center of Artomatic, at www.artomaticvoyage.com
What was your Artomatic exhibit?
I had several, but my favorite one was a photographic exhibit with teddy bears as Hercules and recounted the twelve labors of Hercules. I called the exhibit “The 12 Labears of Bearcules.” The exhibit promoted the work of Hugs Across America.