Chicks for Charity to support Shared Lives StudioWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Shared Lives Studio, which allows artists with developmental disabilities to create and sell their work, is the new beneficiary of Chicks for Charity.
Chicks for Charity is an informal group of about 1,800 women and girls who choose an organization to help support and raise awareness for every two years. The group raises money through individual fundraisers like lemonade stands and wine tastings and also through events like the annual Chicks Mix.
Shared Lives Studio is a division of Lott Industries and formed after the Ford Maumee Stamping Plant closed, making job opportunities harder to come by.
“I’ve always said that art is a great equalizer. Everybody has a voice and it’s personal,” said Shared Lives Art Director Lori Schoen at a presentation Dec. 6.
The other finalists to become the Chicks’ beneficiary were Food for Thought and Family House. They also presented for the Chicks on Dec. 6. Members of Chicks for Charity could either vote for the new recipient at the presentation meeting or online.
Family House was started in 1985 and offers shelter for homeless families, allowing them to stay together during a homeless emergency.
Food for Thought, started in 2007, has one stationary food pantry and 10 mobile pantries that reach both urban and rural communities. The group emphasizes serving people with dignity.
The Chicks’ last recipient was the International Boxing Club, which provides programming for at-risk youth. Chicks for Charity raised $104,000 for the program.
Schoen said in a news release,“We look forward to using these next two years to educate the community more about Shared Lives Studio and what it provides. Our association with Chicks for Charity gives us the opportunity to be recognized and also raise money to support and expand the programs we offer, but most importantly to show how wonderfully talented and able our artists are. This gives us an amazing opportunity to share with our community our talents and gifts.”
Shared Lives Studio helps break down stereotypes, she said.
At the Dec. 6 presentation, Schoen recalled the first art show the studio had at Toledo Botanical Garden.
“One mother just kept walking around and saying, ‘I had no idea what he was capable of.’ Another mother just sort of burst into tears,” Schoen said.
Many of the artists even have fans of their work who are eager to meet them.
“[The artists are] contributing members of our society. They’re a part of our community and their jobs are very important,” Schoen said, adding that the artists are often “chomping at the bit” to start their workdays.
One of the artists, Tyler, spoke after her at the presentation.
“I can’t wait to go to work every day,” he said, later adding, “You are the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Martha Vetter, founder of Chicks for Charity, said in a news release, “[Shared Lives’] contribution to the regional art scene is wonderful; we’re so fortunate to have an organization like this in Northwest Ohio.”