By Brianna Kudisch
Theresa Solazzo is no stranger to philanthropy. She’s organized countless events, from lemonade stands to bake sales, to help raise money in the summer for charity. But her largest success to date is the annual “Talent Show of Hope,” a large-scale charitable event that recently had its 12th run on Aug. 5.
What started as a local production on Solazzo’s deck in 2005 involving her kids and neighbors slowly grew to a yearly community event that raised more than $5,000 in mostly cash with some goods. More than 200 people attended this past show, which was held in Roxbury High School’s auditorium for the sixth consecutive year.
Solazzo commented on the gradual progression of the event’s popularity through the multiple location changes it’s had throughout the years.
“It [the show] went from here, our deck, to a little stage by our neighbor’s and then it went to Eisenhower [Middle School] and then to the high school,” she said, laughing.
The money raised will send goods and money to a number of locations, including a multi-purpose vehicle to Africa, clothing and textbooks to Nepal, Albania, Guatemala, and bicycles Haiti, just to name a few. Additionally, school supplies will be sent to St. Augustine in Newark and Roxbury Social Services will receive donated items.
Spread over 20 acts, Talent Show of Hope highlighted a variety of dances, songs, and musical pieces from 25 performers and special guests. Each act was approximately three minutes long, and all the performers prepared on their own time. The program aims to be wholesome entertainment, filled with positive music and inspiring pieces.
In addition to the talent of the night, approximately 50 volunteers, including crew members, emcee’s and a stage manager, helped Solazzo keep the show running smoothly.
With only one group rehearsal, the talent show had the potential to be chaotic. However, everything ran efficiently with no mistakes. Solazzo credits God for the success of the event.
“I just thank God, with prayer, that it comes together nicely,” she said.
During intermission, additional entertainment was available through the performer “Magic Jason,” who performed magic tricks in the foyer. Event organizers also played the EP of musician Mike Liegel during this time, who was one of the performers from the show.
The finale involved Reba Macintyre’s video, “Pray for Peace,” and a variety of performers, staff and others together on stage.
“It truly was a beautiful night of sharing,” said Solazzo.
Food and gifts were sold during the show to help with proceeds, along with ticket prices. Despite losing some advertising this year, the event continues to receive dedicated support from local churches and community families, making Talent Show of Hope a success, year after year.
Solazzo has seen Talent Show of Hope host larger amounts before. Last year’s show drew a crowd of around 400 people, marking it as the largest Talent Show of Hope Salozza has organized to date.
Solazzo is still taking donations for cash and gently used items to send to the Philippines. To donate, contact her at (973) 927-3978 or visit “Talent Show of Hope” on its page on Facebook.