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Shelby Artists on Main will celebrate its fifth anniversary with a fund-raising event Thursday night to help troubled children.
From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. the gallery, located at 617 Main St. in Shelbyville, will donate a portion of all art sales to the Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA), which aids abused or neglected children in Shelby and Spencer counties.
CASA volunteers help children who have been ordered to get help by a family court judge, actively participating in the children’s lives.
Volunteers visit the child at home and school and talk to their therapists and doctors. As required by law, they see or speak to each child every week. When it's time for the child to go to court, the volunteer goes to represent the child's best interest before the judge.
"These volunteers reach out and get to know these kids on a one-on-one basis. They are sometimes the only constant in these children's' lives," said Beverly Hilger, coordinator of volunteer advocates in Shelby and Spencer counties. "CASA ranks right up there with teachers, in getting to know them, mentoring for them, and representing their interests to the judge."
CASA works strictly off of donations and volunteers. Hilger approached Shelby Artists on Main recently to see if they'd be willing to put up a flyer to help spread the word on CASA, but she got much more in return.
It turned out that Shelby Artists on Main recently passed its fifth anniversary, but hadn't yet celebrated it.
"We were looking for something to make it special and we thought, 'Oh my goodness, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could actually help somebody,'" said Linda Powell, co-founder of Shelby Artists on Main.
Powell attended CASA's formation meeting back in February and said she was moved by the organization that reached out to children who seemed to have nobody else looking out for them.
"So few [children] have anyone to advocate for them, to mentor them through these horrible times," she said.
Helping the CASA cause is something she said she wanted to do since that initial meeting. Instead of just putting up a flyer, she offered CASA a place in Shelby Artists on Main's anniversary celebration.
Thrilled, Hilger hopes the teamwork extends beyond Thursday.
"This is just a wonderful venue that is positive and helpful to children too.
They're even wanting to get with us later on and work on some special art projects just for our special needs kiddos -- the ones that are in foster care or at risk of coming into foster care," she said. "Art is a wonderful way for our children to express their feelings and what's going on in their life. I'm just excited that they even wanted to do this for us."
Indiana received $7 million from the state to run their CASA program this year, while Kentucky relies one hundred percent on charitable donations, Hilger said. Kentucky and West Virginia are the only two states in the United States with CASA programs that receive no financial support from state.
That's why CASA relies on the help of others to keep up with the many children in need. There are currently 11 volunteers helping children in Shelby County, but there are currently none in Spencer County.
Both entities involved in Thursday's celebration hope that people will come out to the event, have some wine and food, and contribute however they can.
"There's nothing like kids to give you that extra little boost," Powell said.