A Community of Big Hearts

Published 1:40 pm Friday, February 14, 2020

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The 9th annual Have a HeArt for Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraiser was a Big success thanks to generous artists and community support. Area artists donated nearly one hundred pieces for the silent auction benefit held at the Upstairs Artspace to raise funds crucial for supporting BBBS mentoring programs for area youth.

The project originated in 2010 with a discussion between local potter Jim Cornell and BBBS program coordinator Karen Dacey. From there, Dacey took the idea and ran with it, inviting artists to decorate clay hearts created by Cornell and Dacey’s husband Doug. The results were captivating, and generated an enthusiastic response from visitors to the gallery. 

Since the beginning the ceramic hearts have been a part of the fundraiser, but it has expanded to encompass all artistic media, including jewelry, painting, fiber, wood, metal, stone, sculpture, photography, glass, recycled objects and mixed media. Consisting of work mostly from regional artists, some arrives from as far away as Florida and Missouri.  The public has been consistently delighted with the opportunity to collect a unique piece of artwork while offering their support for Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

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While many have contributed annually, local artist Bob Neely has zealously adopted the HeArts as a pet project, creating and contributing dozens of pieces over the years. To honor his devotion to the cause, space was designated as a “Bob Neely tribute wall” that featured his artwork for this year’s event. In a surprise turnabout, Neely honored Dacey with an oral tribute and gift for her seventeen years of service to Big Brothers Big Sisters that will end with her retirement this month. 

So many people join forces to make Have a HeArt such a success for Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization is very grateful for the continued commitment from the Upstairs Artspace and robust support from the HeArts collectors. Area businesses and individuals who donated sponsorships were recognized at the event and in local media. The School Belles, represented by Clara Rogers and Libby Justice, made and sold ceramic heart pins during the opening reception. One of the artists, Big Sister Angel Mitchell, collaborated with her Little Sister Jada on their ceramic hearts.

Gallery sitting, volunteering for the event, and refreshments for the opening and closing receptions were provided by: Big Sister Sue Anderson, Big Sister Marie King, Big Sister Jessica Silva, Big Brother Bob Montgomery, Lynn Montgomery, Kathy Ard, Doug Dacey, Diane Samsel, Jacque Brown Williams, Jacquie Ziller and BBBS Council members: Sharol Ard,  Lynn Costine, Carolyn Gibson, Audrey Kendrick, Big Sister Susie Kocher and her Little Sister Malia and friends Evangeline and Charley, Lee Morgan, Jane Ollis and Chris Tinkler. This ardent support allowed all funds generated from the event to be directed towards the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs in area communities and schools. 

BBBS relies on community support to grow and sustain the important relationships of adult mentors with the children who benefit from them. There are other children still on the waiting list for a Big or a school mentor. Maybe you could help? For more information about volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters or enrolling children, please call 828-859-9230 or email polk@bbbswnc.org.

Karen Dacey