‘The need is real:’ The Hope Gallery celebrates grand opening and highlights unique mission

‘The need is real:’ The Hope Gallery celebrates grand opening and highlights unique mission
Published: Sep. 9, 2023 at 6:47 PM CDT
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NEWBURGH, Ind. (WFIE) - ‘The Hope Gallery’ is an idea born from the Alex and Ali Foundation, started by Jessica Grimm Parker and her husband.

When their son Alex, who has autism, struggled to find a place to work after high school because of his disability, the Parkers decided to step in.

It started in Bargersville, only a half hour outside of Indianapolis. That’s where the first Hope Gallery was opened in 2018.

“The need is real,” Parker said. “These are all individuals who are capable of working, they want to work, they want to give back to the community, they just need an opportunity.”

The store operates like any other, but holds a mission unique to them. The store provides a safe place to work to dozens of young adults with disabilities.

“They shouldn’t have to be put behind the curtain,” Marcy Brush said. “They’re normal, they’re like us.”

Brush has worked with people with disabilities for 17 years. She says places like this are rare, but important.

“They’re [The community is] going to know that the word disability doesn’t mean I can’t, it means I can,” Brush said.

Parker’s family has experienced their share of hardships, most notably losing their daughter, Hope, in 2020. The same Hope the gallery is named after.

“It just feels really good doing something for others in her name, in her honor,” Parker said. “We always talk about loving big, that’s what she did while she was on this earth, and now we’re doing the same thing.”

Parker says the community has been incredibly supportive, including recently with the help of the Bearded Villains, who are donating their proceeds of their annual beard competition to the gallery.

Brian Phillips made the drive for the competition, and the cause hits close to home for the Northern Indiana native.

“It’s pretty incredible, it really is,” Phillips said. :The fact that I have two special needs kids of my own, to be able to have a resource like this, where I live in Northern Indiana would’ve been amazing for them.”

Phillips stood in awe of the artwork that hung throughout the store, piecing together the work that was put into each item.

“The effort that’s put in, and the hours that must’ve been put in to make this stuff, the love that was put into some of these products, I mean, it’s truly incredible,” Phillips said.

Phillips says he hopes to get the ball rolling on a similar concept up in the northern part of the state.

With Parker’s help, he’s also looking to bring hope to those only asking for an opportunity.

“This should be everywhere,” Phillips said. “You shouldn’t have to search for a place like this.”

Parker says that as of now, they have 70 team members working at the Hope Gallery.

The proceeds of which all go back into the foundation, and continue providing an outlet for those looking for their place in the Tri-State.

The Hope Gallery is located on West Main Street in Newburgh, IN.

For more information on the Alex and Ali Foundation, check out their website.