Heart of Passion (HoP) seeks to inspire everyone we meet to strive for their own potential, to embrace the tiny moments that make up life, and to live confidently and compassionately, improving the world in their own way. We’re a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing individualized experiences that incrementally improve the world as a whole. Through our young adult leadership development program, we mold the new generation of leaders with character, confidence, conviction, and compassion. Graduates learn business fundamentals and confidence through obstacles, and they go on to compassionately apply these lessons in a variety of fields (missions, medicine, teaching, to name a few). Through our Red Carpet Day (RCD) Retreats, we provide positive unique experiences for teens with cancer to anticipate, enjoy, and make memories to share – positive memories to help balance out the negative uniqueness that cancer brings to their everyday lives.
Heart of Passion programming has always revolved young adults because we know they can make a powerful contribution to their committees. We founded HoP’s young adult Leadership Development Program (LDP) to give high schoolers the tools to contribute, as well as to provide them with an umbrella for discovering their own potential and passion. Originally conceived to train students to lead teen cancer retreats, HoP’s Leadership Development Program teaches skills and perspectives that promote a servant leadership approach to all aspects of life. Through our program, we teach teens how to recognize their own strengths and how to recognize different strengths in others. Our lessons revolve around this collaboration and around adapting perspectives. Throughout the school year, LDP-ers attend training sessions to learn business fundamentals and the importance of team building. Using what they learn in these sessions, LDP-ers establish sponsorships, raise publicity, liaise with hospitals, and coordinate that summer’s Red Carpet Day retreat. At RCD they are responsible for running the event logistics and for serving as hosts for the RCD guests. Leader applications go up in August of each year.
Special thanks to Wayne and Avon Langston for serving as founding sponsors to make this program possible. We extend further thanks to Scandurro & Layrisson, LLC for sponsoring HoP Nola LDP 2013-2014 and to Tom and Gay Solomon for their support of HoP Atlanta LDP 2013-2014.
Red Carpet Day (RCD) Retreats are four-day overnight retreats for teens with cancer to enjoy all-expense-paid “red carpet” treatment with friends that share the same battle. Not only do the teens enjoy VIP tours, limo rides, and posh hotels – their families take comfort in knowing their teen is in a safe environment, experiencing the independence that cancer often takes away. Retreats are held in Atlanta and in New Orleans each summer and are planned by high school students in the HoP Leadership Development Program.
In June of 1997, 11-year old Savannah Solomon was diagnosed with cancer. With scans, surgeries and 10 months of chemo, cancer was a big struggle in her life – especially because it made it difficult for her to relate with her peers. Her Saturdays were not filled with slumber parties, and she even felt out of place at the cancer kid camp. In 1999 she attended a free week skiing in Aspen with other teens with cancer, courtesy of the Sunshine Kids. This was the first time she had felt like a regular kid in two years. She returned home and began thinking about how to bring that kind of fun to her hospital friends in Atlanta.
While she was planning a retreat for these friends, Savannah’s cancer returned. She continued with her planning, and made several partnerships with local organizations. One of the most notable marks of support was through the newspaper. The Atlanta Journal- Constitution ran an article on her project, and the response from the community of Atlanta was overwhelming. Within a week of the article running, she received over $60,000 in donations. At the end of May 2002, thirty-six teenagers from GA, NC, SC, and TN came to Atlanta for a free weekend of fun and pampering – the first ever Red Carpet Day retreat. Participants returned home with stories of acceptance, luxury, and an overall comfort, and it was obvious the retreat had to continue.
After three successful events and a final relapse, Savannah wanted to expand nationally, and she founded Heart of Passion, and RCD was brought to Texas. After earning her Tulane MBA in 2010, Savannah loved all New Orleans had to offer and she knew that the experience and joy must be shared. So she brought RCD to New Orleans. To date, Heart of Passion has hosted 12 retreats in New Orleans, Atlanta and Dallas. Overall, nearly 200 teen volunteers have completed the leadership training and over 400 teens with cancer from eight states have participated in the retreats.
We are always excited when new people want to get involved with HoP! Volunteer roles we regularly fill include:
Please get in touch with us – we’d love to hear from you!
Heart of Passion is entirely volunteer-run and depends on support from our community partners. If you’re interested in donating, please visit our donations page.