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Local actor presenting Night of Hope 'to bring people together'

Evening of music, comedy on Aug. 27 is being organized following 'difficult couple of years' for community, says Ralston Harris

Orillia will have a special Night of Hope on Aug. 27, taking place at Kelsey’s Party Room on Memorial Avenue.

It’s an evening of musical entertainment, storytelling and humour covering issues that hit at the heart of the Orillia community.

Event creator Ralston Harris was raised in Orillia and is now a Vancouver-based actor. He will be flying in to host the evening, alongside his good friend and co-host, Ian McRae.

“The Night of Hope is an opportunity to bring people together,” says Harris. “We all know it’s been a difficult couple of years, both as individuals and as a community. There’s been a rise in crime, mental illness and suicide, drug use, addiction and overdoses.

“These issues are not only becoming more prevalent but are hitting closer to home,” he says. “I think everyone can relate in some way. Everyone knows someone suffering through these situations, either directly or indirectly, or through a friend or relative. Even though I live in Vancouver now, these critical issues in Orillia affect me personally within my friend group.”

Confirmed performers and speakers include musicians Dan and Mel Bazinet, well-known psychologist and personal counsellor Brian Adams, Orillia social advocate Vanessa Wilson, and local rapper Zain Campbell. There will also be an open-mic opportunity for people to share their own experiences, Harris says.

“These topics need to be part of a conversation. This is why we will be there at the Night of Hope, to give people of all ages and backgrounds a place to have that conversation, to create a community within the community and, of course, to have a good time.”

There is no admission charge. Attendees are asked to make a pay-what-you-can donation to the Sharing Place Food Centre. The doors of Kelsey’s Party Room open at 7 p.m.



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