Hope From A Stone

​• Planet Hope gears up for fund-raiser to help homeless women, children.

 

By Sarah B. Graham

OUR TIMES

 

    A pyramid-shaped hair salon will be turned into virtual Egypt for an Aug, 7 fund-raiser for Studio City­ based Planet Hope, a charitable organization actress Sharon Stone and her sister, Kelly Stone, founded to help homeless women and children.

    Inside Sebastian International's i  Zone in Woodland Hills are waterfalls, audio-visual textures and translucent walls, all installed in preparation for the gala. 

    The Stone sisters founded Planet Hope in 1991 after Kelly Stone had faced the threat of having a leg ampu­tated, Following several operations in 1990, Kelly Stone had lost hope that her life would improve, but a conversation she had wilh her sister inspired 'her to use her own hardship to help others.     Kelly Stone convinced her Acade­ my Award-nominated sister to help her start a summer camp for homeless children and their mothers.

     "The organization has benefitted from Sharon Stone's celebrity. John Travolta donated all the furniture in the office and Rosanna Arquette volunteered to lick envelopes," Kelly Stone said.

   Planet Hope is perhaps best known for its annual, weeklong family camp, Camp Hope, which is held in Malibu. At the sleepover camp, homeless women receive job training and makeovers while their children receive complete medical checkups, a back-to-school wardrobe and the traditional overnight summer camp experience.

   The camp costs $250 per child or $1,000 per family. Expenses are covered by the organization's fund-raising efforts. Since it's first year, about 1,400 adults and children have attended Camp Hope.

   This past May, professional tennis coach Victor Assad donated his time teaching tennis to the children of Camp Hope.

   Among the organization's other programs are Computer Hope, a computer training class for homeless women; Kids for Kids, which provides Internet access to children living in homeless shelters; and Christmas Hope, which provided 1,000 toys to homeless children in 1999.

   Since it's inception Planet Hope has helped about 10,000 individuals by forming partnerships between businesses and nonprofits to create jobs that enable homeless people to re-enter society.

  It's incredible where Planet Hope evolved," Kelly Stone said. "1t's a big victory."

   She considers herself the group's first beneficiary. She said she's been transformed by the love and support she has received by giving to those in need. Stone said Planet Hope gave her hope.

    Another Planet Hope success story is Connie Tapia, who was homeless when she and her two children attend­ed Camp Hope in its first season.

   Tapia now works for the Los AngeIes County Department of Parks and Recreation.

  Gracie Preciado has also attended Camp Hope and now runs Planet Hope's office.

  "Having the unfortunate experience of being homeless made it easy for me to understand the people involved and for them to feel comfortable with me," Preciado said.

  The group has benefitted from the work of volunteers, such as Sherman Oaks optometrists Richard Silver and Bill Takeshita, who donated their time and provided 15 children with eye glasses this year.

  Macy's Tommy Hilfiger and Puma companies donated new clothing to Camp Hope.

  Sebastion International will present the Stones with a check at the party for an undisclosed amount from the July proceeds of its i Zone salon's services. The company has also donated $50,000 worth of makeup to Camp Hope this year.

  Kelly Stone said she expects numerous celebrities to attend the Planet Hope gala, which is open to the public.

   IF YOU GO • The Planet Hope fund-raiser will be held at 8 p.m. on Aug. 7 at Sebastian International's i Zone salon, 6109 De Soto Ave., Wood­ land Hills. TIckets are $150 and can be obtained by calling (310) 201-5033.