Hope Gala Honors Castellino With Inaugural Shine Hope Award For Anti-Trafficking Efforts

(MENAFN- PR Newswire) LANCASTER, Pa., June 18, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- Over two hundred attendees of Hope Inspire Love gathered for the nonprofit's Hope Gala & Awards Ceremony at the Lancaster Country Club on Saturday, June 8. The event honored Heather
Castellino, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Human Trafficking Section of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as one of the Shine Hope Award recipients.

The Hope Gala & Awards Ceremony is an evening to raise funds to continue fighting the darkness of human trafficking and bring hope to Pennsylvania's women, men, and youth.

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Hope Gala Honors Castellino With Inaugural Shine Hope Award For Anti-Trafficking Efforts Image

Shine Hope 2024 Award Recipients - Amy Thurston, Heather Castellino, and Bethany Zimmerman.

The evening kicked off with welcome addresses from Liz Ackerman, Executive Director of the Northern Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, who spoke to the evening's focus on combating human trafficking and exploitation in Pennsylvania, and Jen Mack, Chair of the Board of Directors of Hope Inspire Love, who introduced The RugBeater Cleaning Enterprises as the premier Flourish & Thrive sponsor for the gala.

After the opening remarks, the evening continued with honoring Castellino with the prestigious Shine Hope Award.

The Shine Hope Award recognizes individuals who have made a unique contribution to the anti-trafficking field and demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to combating human trafficking. In her remarks, Castellino highlighted the critical work of her office's Human Trafficking Section.

Castellino shared how important her team was in achieving the goals and purpose of her office and the work they do to fight human trafficking. "The team always puts the victims and survivors first. Organizations like Hope Inspire Love and my team are on the frontlines, making a difference. They also have to give up their time away from their spouses, kids, and families to help others because they care." Castellino also thanked Hope Inspire Love for their wonderful work of education, prevention, and trauma-informed mentorship as they inspire and enrich our communities.

"The Board of Directors of Hope Inspire Love is honored to celebrate the tireless work and dedication led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Castellino and her team," said Missy Knechel, Board Director of Hope Inspire Love and presenter of the Shine Hope Award. "Their steadfast leadership demonstrates a powerful commitment and tireless dedication to seeking justice and ending human trafficking across our state. Through this Shine Hope Award, we want to celebrate her tremendous and notable achievements and her relentless efforts to help restore hope, dignity, and, most importantly, her unwavering commitment to freedom for the 'one.'"

The Hope Inspire Love Board of Directors was also thrilled to honor Bethany Zimmerman, Mentorship Program Director, and Amy Thurston, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hope Inspire Love. Both of these women have provided distinguished service to Hope Inspire Love. The board recognized their dedicated contribution to the anti-trafficking field and their outstanding leadership and dedication to the nonprofit's mission. "Bethany and Amy are phenomenal leaders, and both of these women have led by example with passion, grace, and commitment to the hard but very rewarding work to help eradicate human trafficking in our lifetime. They both inform, inspire, equip, and connect, and are in the trenches with survivors while helping lead and shine bright in a leadership capacity at Hope Inspire Love," stated Missy Knechel.

The gala was nothing short of extraordinary. From a captivating red carpet entrance and world-class food at the Lancaster Country Club, the evening was filled with excitement, inspiring and powerful words, and a united front to the dedicated work of serving survivors of sex trafficking. The gala is vital to the success of empowering survivors to flourish and thrive.

Under the theme "You Are Seen," this year's Hope Gala celebrated the relentless courage of trafficking survivors and that they are seen. Every survivor is seen, not alone; we hear them, we believe them, and we will journey with them through their season of restoration and healing. The evening was paired with an arts experience, including SEEN Collective, their concert-style show with original music that shared how women are seen, and a live painting by artist and Hope staff member Sarah Racine.

The evening's fundraising goes to continue the work of Hope Inspire Love's Trauma-Informed Mentorship Program for at-risk and survivors of sex trafficking, education, and prevention initiatives that include survivor-led curriculum for schools, raising awareness in professions such as businesses, healthcare, banking, civic groups, churches, and equipping the community with awareness to help prevent trafficking from ever happening in the first place.

The celebration was supported by many individuals, sponsors, community partners, and generous underwriters, including The Rug Beater Cleaning Enterprises, Victory Church Lancaster, Conestoga Oral Surgery, HnH Auto Body, Victory Church Audubon, and Nates Automotive. Thank you for generously supporting Hope Inspire Love. The evening was also sponsored by Activate Your Influence, Fulton Bank, Gracie's on Main, New Creations Studio, Brookside Brothers, Hursh Painting Company, The North Group, Legacy Law, Tommy's Express Car Wash, Brubakers Inc., Stoltzfus Structures, Heck Construction, Healthy Smiles Dentistry, Berkshire, GT Church, Agape, Little Boutique, Meadowview Woodwork, Oakwood Coffee, Inch by Inch, Snyder Plumbing, The Miller Family, Multiply Ink, Cross & Crown, and countless friend sponsors.

Amy Thurston, President & CEO of Hope Inspire Love, reflected on the year's impact, highlighting the work of the nonprofit. Thurston expressed gratitude to gala attendees and supporters for championing the vital work and success of Hope Inspire Love and its leaders, who are deeply making a difference in the lives of survivors while effectively achieving the organization's mission and goals. Thurston showcased a map of Pennsylvania with twenty-eight red dots and shared how Hope Inspire Love has seen tremendous growth over the last two years because of the wonderful support of its community. "The work we do is hard, but it's so worth it...because every dot on that map, every survivor, is worth it. We get the honor of doing life with survivors through our Hope Mentorship Program, and seeing everyone here tonight is a beautiful reminder that you are all with us in this fight," stated Thurston. "Passion for the one led us here, changed lives keeps us going."

Thurston also shared, "We've seen survivors find the strength to testify in court while facing their traffickers and seeing justice realized often for the first time, and everyone in this room is making that happen." Thurston concluded with, "Tonight, it's all about the survivors. We see you, you matter, you have a purpose, and you are not alone. We do this work for the 'one,' and you are the one. There is hope, and we wouldn't be doing what we do if we didn't get to see that hope shine so bright when healing begins to happen."

The Hope Gala & Awards Ceremony came to a brilliant close, with Lori Stoltzfus, owner of The Rug Beater Cleaning Enterprises, reflecting on the power of unreasonable generosity. "My husband Phil & I consider it a real honor to be able to support Hope Inspire Love tonight, and we also consider it an honor to be sitting among so many others who obviously have a passion for the 'One.' Thank you."

Now in its second year, the annual gala delivered an evening filled with celebration, reflection on the wins of 2023, and a glimpse into the ambitious vision for 2024 in the fight against human trafficking and online exploitation in Pennsylvania.

Download additional Hope Gala & Award Ceremony photos at:

Heather Castellino has served in the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General since 2000. Heather has recently been appointed by Attorney General Michelle Henry to lead the newly created Human Trafficking Section at the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General. Prior to this appointment, Heather worked as a prosecutor in the Organized Crime Section. Heather began her career as a Deputy District Attorney in the Bucks County Office of the District Attorney. Since 2008, Heather has been prosecuting human trafficking cases. She has coordinated and prosecuted numerous human trafficking cases with the Pennsylvania State Police Organized Crime Unit, agents from the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, local municipality police departments, and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations. These cases have resulted in multiple convictions in both State and Federal court. Before her career as a prosecutor, Heather received her degree from Temple University in Political Science in 1992 and her JD from Villanova Law School in 1995.

Hope Inspire Love, Inc., is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that exists to eradicate human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It was started in 2017 and now encompasses a 4-part solution to fight against human trafficking: awareness, prevention education, trauma-informed mentorship, and social enterprise. Through these initiatives, Hope Inspire Love is a beacon of hope in the fight against human trafficking and online exploitation, equipping communities with anti-human trafficking tools and resources, partnering with organizations and community members to fight for vulnerable people, and disrupting the business of human trafficking through targeted awareness campaigns and effective prevention initiatives. The organization also provides critical survivor resources. For more information, go to HopeInspireLove

SOURCE Hope Inspire Love Inc


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