Kristen Sze, ABC7 News Anchor, will serve as special guest emcee for Le Cirque de la Vie Auction Soirée. The auction is a fundraiser for the Kids & Art Foundation that will use the funds raised to provide free workshops for children and families battling pediatric cancer here in the Bay Area throughout its upcoming 2015-16 season. The nonprofit is 98 percent volunteer run. The workshops are provided for children ages 2-18 and their entire caregiver circles, including best friends, siblings and grandparents. The Kids & Art approach is to focus on the whole child, not just the cancer treatment.
ABC7 News and Sze covered one of the Kids & Art workshops in February 2015, as part of the news channel's recognition series "Meet the Stars Where you Live." The #WhereYouLive series honored the work of Kids & Art and its founder and executive director, Purvi Shah. The segment series carries a quote, "We believe in the game changers, the dream chasers, the explorers, the REAL stars where you live."
The "dreamchasing" nonprofit is really a grassroots effort, albeit one whose base of supporters has greatly expanded in a short time. This is impressive and heartening for many reasons, notably that we are in a time and certainly a place like the Bay Area, where many are focused on science and technology and taking part in all that culture entails. Finding a place for art, placing an 'A--for art--into STEM, is indeed part of the message of its mission, perhaps a differentiator for Kids & Art.
Leader of a growing distributed effort, Shah is prone to acknowledging each individual contributor. She has a lot of insight into how people become involved and the cycle of that involvement. While Shah would be the one to place the focus on these helpers, she also gives plenty back. Her charismatic nature and ability to inspire others to find and bring forth their strengths has of course been key in this growth. It is a monumental task to take on evangelizing the arts-based nonprofit and getting others to care enough to pitch in. Shah is the mother of Amaey Shah, who died after battling against acute lymphoblastic leukemia for six of his nine years. The Foundation grew from the family's love of participating in art making throughout the course of his life, which became an escape and a focus for Amaey and his brother, Arjun.
That makes Empowerment an even greater part of what Kids & Art does. The empowerment spreads beyond the target population of families dealing with pediatric cancer or grief. It might be what you'd call Shah's 'management style’ secret sauce. There is no question at this stage that Kids & Art is steeped in an informal and casual culture and style. It rings true, however, that the way things run behind the scenes is very much what is expressed in its mission of service: "Our mission is about empowerment, encouragement and creating memorable experiences."
Empowering others provides its own rewards. It’s a feedback loop. While Kids & Art is about empowering children going through the ordeal of cancer treatment, Shah serves as a good model of how to empower the individuals who come to the aid of the population it serves. Shah recently shared kudos with her team, noting how their commitment gives her strength. It comes back to her--reinvigorating her spirit and deepening her commitment.
"Looking up and seeing all of these people there with me, involved in the life that is Kids & Art, makes me feel like I can do it," she said. "I'm not just doing this alone. I'm relying on others whose help is such a concrete sign that we're doing the right thing.” Having acknowledgement from strong and visible helpers in the community, like Kristen Sze, has the same effect. “It’s very empowering to me," she said.
Sze traveled to one of the Kids & Art workshops as part of the Stars feature. She brought a crew to film the workshop, which was a first of its kind hands-on fashion workshop led by Jill Pillot with help from Auction Sponsor, Kanjana Amato. Pillot’s San Mateo shop, Ricochet Wearable Art, and its newer offshoot, Wearable Art Academy, serve as a meeting place for many creative designers in the area. Pillot’s retail store is also a design workshop where the eco-minded designer perfects her own clothing designs, grows her line, and offers classes and internships, empowering young people and teaching a range of skills for those who want to gain experience in fashion careers.
Shah looks forward to having Sze take center stage at our Cirque de la Vie Auction Soirée September 19. “The art auction is the main component, but we are also creating a gathering of our patrons and supporters,” she said. She hopes that the event will include as many people as possible from those who have been there for the nonprofit and the families. The Soirée will celebrate what has been accomplished together, and will be our chance to thank and acknowledge those who were a part of it.
WE WINE. WE DINE. WE ENTERTAIN.
Sze is a fabulous addition to our evening of local talents. We've got great local performers, ranging from Master Blaster G, the SF Trumpet Kid and singer Katherine Park to circus performers from San Francisco based Circus Center and The Medical Clown Project. We hope Kristen enjoys the evening, too.
Please join Kristen Sze and be a Kids & Art supporter. Bid on art made by children who participate in our workshops. Meet the artists who volunteer with us, and bid on artwork from their studios. All proceeds from his art auction go towards operational costs and to expanding our workshops throughout the Bay Area.
Le Cirque de la Vie Art Auction Soirée, a benefit for Kids & Art takes place September 19, 4:00 – 7:00 at Palo Alto Art Center, located at 1313 Newell Road in Palo Alto.
If you live in the Bay Area, buy tickets online and come to the live auction. If not, you can still bid. In fact, anyone within or outside California can participate in online bidding by visiting: