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A ‘River of Hope’ brings Madison Together for COVID-19 Relief

By Maria Rakoczy

MADISON – A special project in Madison is pulling together several non-profit agencies, local government entities, the businesses community, and local families who want to share a message of hope.

Madison Visionary Partners (MVP) is collaborating with other Madison non-profit organizations to create a ‘River of Hope’ at Dublin Park to raise funds for COVID-19 relief. The River of Hope will be built out of stones painted by local families and businesses.

Executive Director of Madison Visionary Partners, Liz Brinton, says they are “excited about it.” She believes the community is just as enthusiastic: “Folks are excited get out of the house and paint rocks and support the community.”

Madison Visionary Partners is a non-profit organization founded in 2018. Brinton says it was born out of the people of Madison’s want for a collaborative partnership between the public, government, and businesses.

The River of Hope is the most recent project to serve the organization’s purpose. After partnering with a New Leash on Life to distribute dog food during the pandemic, Brinton wanted a way MVP could continue further serve the Madison community in the pandemic. She also cited her childhood as inspiration for motivation to help in the crisis.

“I am an 80’s child and growing up I saw the AIDS quilt. In times of crisis, volunteers and non-profits hit the ground running to help people,” she said.

The idea to paint rocks came when Brinton noticed painted rocks as mile-markers on the Bradford trail. Though the location has changed, to Dublin Park, the message has not. Brinton wanted to create a place that is “visibly beautiful where people can set a rock next to others.”

“We are asking participants to paint their rock with a positive one-word message of hope and resilience as our community comes together to overcome the COVID pandemic,” Brinton explained. “Or they can honor a special person in your life who has inspired them during the pandemic by painting their name on a rock. After they are done painting it, they drop it off at one of our three stone depots.”

The rocks will then be added to the River of Hope on “Bill’s Hill” in Dublin Park as a positive testament to the many ways the Madison community came together to help one another during COVID-19.

Other non-profits, including the Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison City Schools, Rotary Club of Madison, JustServe.org and American Legion Post 229, are joining forces to bring the river to life.

In a statement on the project, Dr. Ed Nichols, Superintendent of Madison City Schools, said he believes “it is one more platform for citizens to show solidarity and hope as we go through this pandemic.”

Liaison for MVP and the City of Madison, Marc Jacobson, reverberated this sentiment, saying it is a “marker of hope” and “great amenity for the city.”

Sponsors, like French Mill Stones, Redstone Federal Credit Union, and PPG Paints are donating the supplies to build the river. Other sponsors, like Signalink, have made donations for COVID- 19 relief.

All the proceeds from the project will go towards relief. Funds will be raised through sales of the stones.

The stones can be picked up and dropped off at the four stone depots, on Tuesdays at the Madison Public Library and Discovery Middle School, and Wednesdays at Dublin Park and Posh Mommy and Baby Too.

Brinton also noted that they can deliver stones for large groups interested in participating in the project. They are accepting stones and will be assembling the River through the second week of July.

Brinton is excited to see what the community will put out there and “encourages everyone to paint a rock once in your life because it’s a lot of fun!”

For more information about the “River of Hope” and how to help with the project, go to www.mvpmadison.org.

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