Event Date: October 5, 2015

Location: B:Hive Bridgeport

A pastor, an artist, a candlemaker, and a market owner walk into a bar... actually, into a B:Hive. While it may sound like a good start to a joke, there's nothing more serious, energetic, and driven than the passion of these four speakers. The common thread: they all started from scratch. 

With a blazing fire of conviction, these folks took their passion and turned it into their life business. Through all the ebbs and flows of their journeys, they experienced success, rejection, and hope. And once again, Bridgeport had a dose of inspiration through storytelling.

It's not just the stories that left an air of joy and motivation, but each and every individual that came to join in for the night. Hugs were had, laughs were heard, and even an impromptu round of singing "Happy Birthday" occurred. But is it at all surprising? 

This is truly a meltpot of a community. Whether it be culture, talent, language, or economics, diversity in found in every nook and cranky of this vibrant city. And on this particular evening, we heard an array of stories from a multitude of backgrounds. 

A big thank you to those who documented the evening: Kristyn Miller of Kristyn Miller Photography and Maya Oren from Mojalvo films. Click on their links to view more of their beautiful work!

Keep scrolling to see more photos, meet the storytellers, and watch videos from the evening!

Meet our storytellers!

Pastor William McCullough is an influential leader who has served with excellence and integrity throughout his 20 years of ministry. He is the Senior Pastor of Russell Temple CME Church in Bridgeport, Connecticut with more than 250 members and 10 outreach ministries. He is also the Chair of the Bridge-Building Committee of the Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport, and the Scholarship Chair of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Greater Bridgeport and Vicinity, an alliance of 86 black christian pastors. The founder of U-Turn Ministries and Safe Street Kids, Pastor McCullough has touched the lives of thousands in Pennsylvania and Connecticut through relief efforts, community service initiatives, and humanitarian projects. His vision is to proactively bridge the gap between churches and schools, creating a safe community environment that promises, promotes, and provides educational enhancement for our children though Faith Acts for Education

Amy Oestreicher is a 28 year old actress, musician, teacher, composer, dancer, writer, artist, yogi, foodie, and general lover of life.  She grew up in Fairfield and actually moved to Westport the day she was discharged from the ICU after her stomach exploded 2 weeks before her senior prom.  Now she's bought a house with her husband in Norwalk and spends her free time with her hubby, going to Hampshire College, blogging about her experiences, leading workshops, creating art and performing.  Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.  Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons.  Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings. Her favorite food is anything involving cheese.

Randi Bayne + Jolie Vazquez are both native to CT. They love to travel and attend festivals and concerts, but most of all they love CANDLES. They are the brains behind Rayne Home Decor, where Randi is the marketing and sales side and Jolie is the candlemaker/wax shaker. 

Michele + Rick Torres are the owners of Harborview Market, a staple in the Black Rock community. They have been residents of Bridgeport for over 30 years, raised all 5 kids here in the city, and have been active in bringing change to area. Not only does their market provide the most delicious menu of breakfast and lunch fare (the croissants... don't ever forget to snag a croissant!), their cookies have won Best in State for a number of years. 

Join us for our next Heart of the City event at B:Hive on Monday, November 2!