“So what’s going on? Are fundraising benefits the new “party” for us?”
It had been the second one in a row. The weekend before it was cancer. This one was domestic violence.
“Oh no,” he said, “I sure hope not.”
And then I saw what he saw: our lives as “youthful takers” receding into our past. “Generous donors” becoming the new normal.
What he might’ve said was: We’re officially old people.
But the minute we walked through the doors of the Peninsula Hotel and were handed our bidding numbers and shots of tequila, all existential thoughts went out the window. It was clear that generous donors ARE the new party. (Also, there were plenty of people younger than us there, which, for once, gave me comfort.)
The event was Artworks for Healing to benefit A Window Between Worlds— an amazing organization whose mission is to provide art as a healing tool for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. I met its founder, Cathy Salser, on the playground a few years ago when our first borns were barely walking. I’d wanted to become part of AWBW since that first conversation. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I know well the healing power of art. Without my creative outlets, I wouldn’t be where I am today– living a full life with self-esteem and family and love.
Twenty-two years ago Cathy began packing her car with art supplies and driving shelter to shelter. Today she heads an organization that helps over 16,500 people across the country.
And recently, AWBW partnered with Habitat for Humanity to add healing art workshops for low income veterans and families of the fallen.
Art. Heals. ALL. Wounds.
Despite the darkness of the subject matter, we had stepped into a fun and festive party. And there was shopping to be done.
I don’t mess around. I like charity, but I also like a good deal. So when I saw the 6-week Westside Comedy improv class at the silent auction table I didn’t put my name down right away– that would attract competition.
I waited… And waited…
One minute before closing a man came up. “Ooooo,” he cooed. “I have to ask my partner about this improv class, but he’s way over there….” Yeah, those Clipper tickets on the other side of the room were hot. Poor guy never made it through the crowd and back in time.
I signed my name just as bidding closed. Score!
Next we hit up the wall of art. Everything was the same flat rate, no auction. Established artists were mixed in with recipients of AWBW’s art programs. There were landscapes and inspirational quotes, but we were drawn to a painting of a lost little girl with a bizarre bloody thing over her head. But then– where to put it? How do we explain it to the kids? Do we want to expose them to dark themes? For 20 minutes Jonathan and I talked it out.
Finally we decided that she belonged in our study– the room where we make our art. This little girl was an injured artist and she needed a home. We were teary-eyed. It was a moment. Quickly, I pulled the tag off the wall, whipped out my card and paid the volunteer. Suddenly, a lady appeared. “You just bought my painting,” she said, a little pissed off. I hadn’t noticed any one else deliberating over it because I was so ensconced in meaningful convo with hubs.
Oops. I really didn’t mean to be a jerk twice.
The live auction was hosted by Stacey Roman, a seasoned auctioneer who recently (at another event) presented Marilyn’s Seven Year Itch dress and got someone to raise their stick for 7 million. When Stacey talks he just makes you want to get in there and bid. One man bid $2100 for a strand of Mikimoto pearls and surprised Cathy by giving them to her. Sticks kept flying up. Smiles too. Generosity is contagious.
A HeART award was given to this woman, Rose Gilbert, for her years of service to the program. She first gave Cathy $50 twenty-two years ago and has continued to increase support. A high school teacher for 70 years, Rose recently retired at 95. When I think about what I want old age to look like, I want it to look like this. Fabulous.
Guess I’m about a third of the way there. More if you count my collection of brooches.
Ten years ago I walked into my therapist’s office and began my healing process. With an amazing support system, I’ve been able to take back my life after sexual abuse.
A Window Between Worlds is that support system for so many men, women and children broken by domestic violence. By participating in Artworks for Healing, we’ve helped others take back their lives. We went home with a bag of goodies that night, but the healing is the greatest gift.