It’s a wonderful thing to love your job — and if that means helping people in the process, so much the better. Jennifer Lescaleet is the program manager at KidsPeace and one of the things she loves most in the world is helping the foster kids that KidsPeace serves. The organization’s mission is to give hope, help and healing to children, families and communities and it’s something Lescaleet takes seriously.
As with many nonprofits, there always seems to be a shortage of funds and a long list of needs. That doesn’t stop the staff and board at KidsPeace from doing everything in their power to help the children in their care. On Thursday, Oct. 1 the KidsPeace Second Annual Chairity Auction is set to raise funds and provide hours of fun in the process.
“We are so excited about the auction,” said Lescaleet. “Last year we were thrilled to have 18 chairs to auction off. This year we are up to 47 chairs. That just says so much about this community and how caring and supportive people are here.”
Thanks to generous donations from the Restore Warehouse and New and Nearly Thrift Shop, the chairs were provided to the artists at no charge.
“We tried to get wooden chairs that were similar to each other,” said Lescaleet. “When you hear of a foster child you often hear about them being scuffed up and bruised emotionally and sometimes physically, too. We relate these chairs to that … “
There is a parallel here that works beautifully for the KidsPeace cause. The artists represent the foster families and the chairs represent the children. The artists taking in the chairs represent the foster families that give so freely to their foster children.
“When families take in foster children they don’t always know where the kids have been, what they have been through and what they are getting,” said Lescaleet. “We wanted to connect the fundraiser into what happens here. After you put some love and help and healing into someone … it symbolizes exactly what we do — just like the artists that put effort into the chairs. They took something that was bruised and a little banged up and turned it into something beautiful and unique. That is what happens when children are matched with the right foster parents.”
The chairs up for auction are as unique and beautiful as the children and families that KidsPeace serves. Lescaleet noted that some of the chairs are more works of art than utilitarian, and as each one has been dropped off she has been unable to choose a favorite.
“They are all just so different and beautiful,”
Leading up to the event, the public is invited to visit www.ChairityAuction.com to vote for their favorite chair. The night of the event, the 20 chairs that received the most votes will be auction in the live auction at the end of the evening. The rest of the chairs will be auctioned off in the silent auction that runs throughout the evening.
The festivities kick off at 6 p.m. and include food, drinks and live entertainment by Fayetteville’s own Erik Smallwood.
“Erik played at last year’s auction and he was a big hit,” said Lescaleet. “We were delighted that he agreed to come back this year.”
While Lescaleet and the staff and board at KidsPeace are excited about the auction, what they are most excited about is being able to help the kids in their care.
“At the end of the day, all of this goes to the kids,” said Lescaleet. “It is one thing to place a foster child into a home where they will be loved and accepted, but it is another to be able to invest in them and enhance their skills and strengths.”
Some kids that come to KidsPeace have never known what it is like to be loved. So if Lescaleet finds out that they like writing or reading or music or drawing, that is an opportunity to reach out and make the child feel special. Some of the KidsPeace kids have never experienced the joys of Christmas, so every year the staff puts on a Christmas gala where the children can get dressed up and feel special. Other kids don’t know how to interact safely with other children and public school is not an option for them at first.
“We invest in them and put them in a private school setting and transition them to public schools,” said Lescaleet.
While there is a big need for foster parents, KidsPeace is serious about making sure that foster children are matched with families that suit them. This helps build bonds and encourage loving relationships.
“The fewer disruptions in a child’s life the better off they are,” said Lescaleet. “If we can keep them in a safe and loving home consistently that is better for them in the long run. Whatever we can do for them, our kids are our family. We take great pride in making sure they know that.”
It is not uncommon for KidsPeace families to adopt the kids that are placed in their homes.
“There is integrity behind this and we are doing what we can to impact children’s lives in a positive way. We love the idea of being able to have funds on hand to make a difference,” said Lescaleet. “Not everyone can or wants to be a foster parent, but by attending this auction or decorating a chair or going to the website and voting, you are making a difference.”
Tickets for the KidsPeace Chairity Auction are $20 at the door and $15 in advance. Find out more about KidsPeace at kidspeace.org or by calling 223-0949. Tickets are available at www.kidspeace.org/events/kidspeace-2nd-annual-charity-auction.