Stephanie Tillman

—Just Another Girl Wanting to Impact Her World

Every great project has an even greater story behind it and although I believe I have lived a pretty grand adventure the past few years, my story would not be complete without including many chapters, many people and many failures. It’s a journey that took incredible courage, great faith and even more {HOPE}. This is just another amazing chapter in that journey.

To make a really long story short, 13 years ago I was a homeless addict. One day I heard a story that changed my life forever and set me on a new path. I had a lot to learn about life and spent the next 6 years just trying to become a “normal” part of society. With help from a mentor, I discovered I had a gift of graphic design and began building a business. That business exploded in a very short time and we were all over the media. Although I loved the opportunity to share my story on such a large platform, I started to wonder “where are all the other success stories?” and I felt like something was missing from my life.

So I went on a journey to discover the other amazing stories of overcoming trials, courage, love and hope. That journey led me to Joplin MO after the 2011 tornado where I created the very first {HOPE} shirt. It was a simple concept, a dark shirt that said {HOPE} on the front and had a blank piece of paper screen printed on the back. Sitting under a tent in Joplin surrounded by tornado debris for 3 months, I handed out shirts to anyone who came and helped them write the words that were hard for them to speak. Words of fear, words of loss and words of hope. 5,000 shirts later…I was amazed at the transfer of tears and hope that took place each time another person was given a canvas to tell their story and know that their feelings mattered.

The next 2 years were spent doing interact events with these shirts at churches, colleges, businesses and homeless shelters. It was amazing to hear the stories of people wearing their shirt and the person standing behind them reading the shirt and tapping them on the shoulder to talk, pray and share their story.

A few people recommended that I created shirts that already have the backs written on them so that is exactly what I did and I ended up accidentally creating an inspirational apparel line called {HOPE} raisers. I started to see that shirts could be more than a canvas for stories and inspiration, they could also be a tool for fundraising.

The next step in my journey was creating campaigns for different organizations that helped raise awareness, raise money or raise hope and here we are today…a vehicle that is an all in-one mobile hope station being built to help people share stories, raise money and raise hope.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STORY OR SEE SOME OF THE PRODUCTS HERE

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Some adventures give us things that we never knew we were missing in life. The journey of {HOPE} has given me more than just a full heart, it has given me friends that have become family. It has given me a Best Friend I never knew I needed  and it has given me a purpose greater than just waking up to work each day. I have seen countless people cry tears of undesirable sorrow  and I have watched the very first smile of those that have lost more than we can imagine.  I have had success and failures. I’ve done a few things right and even more wrong but at the end of the day what I know is that I am a better person for stepping out on each new adventure and whether it is easy or hard,  or good or bad, each time I learn something new about myself and humanity and I can’t think of any way I would rather spend my time on this earth.

In the past 4 years I am proud to say that I (with help of many friends along the way) have accomplished the following things:

  • Facilitated over 70 interactive events
  • Spent over 10 months in 3 different disaster zones (Joplin, Moore & Baxter Springs)
  • Have given away over 8,000 shirts that help people share their story
  • Have created multiple awareness & fundraising campaigns including Shelter Oklahoma Schools, Faith Wins! (a campaign honoring the Jewish Community Center Shooting in Overland Park), American Heart Association
  • Took a 4,000 mile United in Prayer road trip across the USA to honor the Newtown tragedy