The Enoch Pratt Free Library was abuzz with activity at Art With A Heart's 10th anniversary celebration, "A Decade of Difference."
Tunes from a band mixed with chatter from a few hundred guests like: Dale Stevens, RHI Inc. president; Rachel Monroe, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation president; Melody McCoy, Jhpiego director of external affairs; Jami Kofsky, Kimberly-Clark customer business partner; George Braswell, Command Technology president/CEO; and Jennifer Gilbert, Fox45-TV news anchor.
Randi Pupkin, Art With A Heart's executive director, viewed the scene with awe.
"This is absolutely extraordinary," she said. "Who would have thought that this started in the trunk of a car?" Pupkin started the nonprofit 10 years ago by loading up that trunk with art supplies and starting art classes in two group homes — an Alzheimer's facility and a shelter for battered women.
Event chair Beth Perlman said the committee wanted this year's party to reflect the growth of the organization, which offers art classes to some of the city's disadvantaged communities. Guests participated in several art stations set up around the room.
At one station, folks tried face-painting. Volunteer Michael Farley stood with his face stuck inside a big picture frame, as guests dabbed at it with paintbrushes.
"It's not as uncomfortable as everyone keeps asking," Farley said.
Cocktail tables featured centerpieces of bowls of crayons, which guests used to decorate the white paper tabletops. If their artistic impulses weren't satisfied there, they could turn to the evening's programs – printed in the form of coloring books.
"I love the pigs," said Elda Schwartz, owner of Out and About Photos and Greeting Cards. She was referring to piggy banks, which were decorated by some of the organization's participants and included in the silent auction.
The party's menu was made up of comfort-food favorites, including chips and dip, macaroni and cheese, sliders and mashed potatoes.
Board president Brian Sims beamed. "I think it looks like it's going to be a huge success," he said. "We have a lot of momentum. And this is really a major turning point."
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