Governor's Art Show nets big donation for unhoused youths
TEF's Resiliency Fund gets boost
By Will Costello
Proceeds from the Governor's Art Show funded a $28,230 donation to the Thompson Education Foundation's Resiliency Fund for Unhoused Youth, a program that provides help to the students in the Thompson School District that are unhoused.
The Resiliency Fund, which has existed for around a decade, provides help to unhoused students, many of whom are underage and without parents or a legal guardian, in the form of gift cards to pay for groceries and gas, or paying for car repairs or new tires so that students can actually get to school.
"There are a whole variety of supports that other agencies can't provide," said Kim Akeley-Charron, executive director of TEF. This, she explained, is because many of the students the fund helps are both unaccompanied and under 18. The typical services that help minors in financial trouble are administered through parents or guardians, so children without them sometimes fall through the cracks.
An upcoming program operated by the Resiliency Fund will install "resource closets" in all the high schools across the district that will contain necessities like toothpaste and other hygiene items. It also helps graduating seniors afford caps and gowns for graduation ceremonies, and provides scholarships to some of those who are pursuing post-secondary education.
The Governor's Art Show, an annual tradition held in Loveland for decades, has funded the Resiliency Fund for Unhoused Youth for the last six years, said John Kinkade, board member for the Governor's Art Show and one of the main planners of the event. Prior to that, proceeds went to the Loveland and Thompson Valley Rotary Clubs, which jointly put on the event, and would then be spent on philanthropic causes of those organizations choosing.
Then Kinkade, who also serves on the Thompson Valley Rotary Committee that selects art scholarship recipients, encountered a young scholarship applicant who presented a portfolio that struck him. "It was really dark, really severe," he remembered. A fellow committee member asked about the nature of the student's work, and she described a series of harrowing life experiences that culminated in becoming unhoused.
Kinkade, moved, reached out to his friend, Akeley-Charron, to inquire further. "That just kind of blew me away," he said. Akeley-Charron told him that in addition to the young student Kinkade had encountered, there were hundreds more across the district who had similar experiences. He then insisted that in addition to funding the two Rotary Clubs' philanthropic efforts, one-third of the proceeds from the Governor's Art Show be earmarked for the Resiliency Fund.
The show has been donating to the fund ever since, totaling over $100,000 since 2016, Akeley-Charron said when the donation was announced.
Kinkade, who volunteered the equivalent of six 40-hour workweeks preparing for this year's show, said the program is the primary reason he's still involved with the show. Both Kinkade and Akeley-Charron said that it was rewarding work, and that the recipients, many of whom face challenges unthinkable even to adults, are deserving. "We called it the Resiliency Fund, and that's exactly what these kids show," Akeley-Charron said. "Resiliency, every day."
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