By Deb Silverthorn
Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI) is celebrating its success and building for the future in a fun drive-in movie evening at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 23 at Temple Shalom.
The featured movie will be “Where Hope Grows,” with special in-person guests Chris Dowling, writer and director, and David DeSanctis, who plays the lead character, Produce.
The CHAILIFE Drive-In evening begins with dinner from Urban Crust Pizza and ice cream from Howdy Homemade, which hires and trains people living with Down syndrome and autism. At 8 p.m., Dowling and DeSanctis will share in a meet-and-greet and question-and-answer session moderated by Dallas Film’s Artistic Director James Faust. At 8:30 p.m., with movie snacks provided, the film will begin. All proceeds benefit Community Homes for Adults, Inc.
“This is a breakout party,” said CHAI CEO Lisa Brodsky. “It’s been rough, but CHAI is thriving and I’m so excited to see everyone — real faces, even if we’re masked,” she said. “‘Where Hope Grows’ is a heartwarming and wonderful story that leaves a touching impression. The beauty of how one can impact another by innocent good-heartedness — it absolutely is how all our residents are and I’m so excited for us to share it together.”
Played by first-time feature film actor DeSanctis, Produce grabs the viewer’s heart from the start and holds on until the credits roll. “Where Hope Grows” provides messages of strength and resilience, care, kindness and a great power within.
“I started out wanting to do a film that was a rediscovery of faith, and in Produce, we have that harbinger of faith,” said Dowling, a Dallas native who’s recently moved back to the area after living in Los Angeles for more than 20 years. “In making ‘Where Hope Grows,’ I became connected to a meaningful community and to hear the response is rewarding beyond what I could have imagined.”
Dowling, who moved back with his wife and daughters, said: “I’m happy Texas is home again, that I’m close and can be at the CHAI Drive-In, and I’m thrilled that David, who has become a dear friend, is driving down from Kentucky with his family to be part of the festivities.”
Elise Donosky, CHAI board president, said the movie brought back fond memories of her brother, Charles Baroff of blessed memory, who was a CHAI resident for more than two decades.
“Charles was living his best life at CHAI, always busy, at the J and always so proud of his room,” she said. “CHAI is a treasure and I’m just so happy that in this year, such a tough one for everyone, we’ve been able to keep a good and safe life happening. On the 23rd, we celebrate for sure.”
Johnathan Brownlee, CEO of Dallas Film and a member of Temple Emanu-El, is also pleased to be able to share in the event. “Pop-up and drive-in events have allowed Dallas Film to continue the good work it does and we’re very happy to help CHAI share what will be a very special night,” said Brownlee, founder of Torfoot Films and a director, producer and writer.
In the past 14 months, CHAI’s 29 residents have been separated from their loved ones. This event will allow for in-person gathering, still socially distanced, with mask-wearing required when not in a vehicle. It is planned by Beverly Goldman, Greta Herskowitz, Sandy Kaman, Ann Ochstein, Ricki Shapiro, Lonna Rae Silverman, Marian Spitzberg and Linda Swartz.
“It’s going to be a party,” said Brodsky. “To our donors, without whom we could not continue on, without whom we could not make the lives of our residents as strong and beautiful as they are — we thank you always.”
For more information or to make a contribution (required to attend the CHAILIFE Drive-In) contact Patsy Goodman, CHAI development director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.