On April 29, 2012, the Grand Finale of the Hope and Spirit project took place at the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture. This project, which originally was to last only four months, was extended to almost a full year. For the finale, there was a double book presentation, and double book signing, entitled Hands across History. Ruta Sepetys, from Nashville, TN, presented her book, Between Shades of Gray, the story of a teenage girl deported from Lithuania to Siberia, and Ellen Cassedy, from Washington, DC, presented We are Here, her family’s story as victims of the holocaust that took place in Lithuania.
The turn-out was record breaking. Never in the history of the museum have so many individuals attended a presentation. All of the available seats were taken, additional chairs were brought in, and still people had to stand at the back. This was a remarkable, and very satisfying finale to a project that has consumed two years of my life. In the photograph below stand Ellen Cassedy and Ruta Sepetys, with me in the center.