Paint for Freedom raises awareness, donations
by Nathan Duckworth | Patterson Irrigator
Aug 21, 2014 | 1472 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Attendees of the event were given bidding numbers, which they quietly wrote down on the paper next to works they wanted to take home. The side portrait of Jesus (left) was painted by Pastor Dale Henslaring during a Sunday service before Easter.—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
Attendees of the event were given bidding numbers, which they quietly wrote down on the paper next to works they wanted to take home. The side portrait of Jesus (left) was painted by Pastor Dale Henslaring during a Sunday service before Easter.—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
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Kathy Wilson, spokesperson and founding member of New Day for Children, thanks participants in Paint for Freedom’s Art Gala for their continued support over the last few years, and provides information about the organization—a safe house for victims of human trafficking.—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
Kathy Wilson, spokesperson and founding member of New Day for Children, thanks participants in Paint for Freedom’s Art Gala for their continued support over the last few years, and provides information about the organization—a safe house for victims of human trafficking.—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
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Several works were donated by inmates, including a Ferris wheel piece and a portrait of a child with a cleft lip titled "All Children Are Beautiful."—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
Several works were donated by inmates, including a Ferris wheel piece and a portrait of a child with a cleft lip titled "All Children Are Beautiful."—Photo by Nathan Duckworth/Patterson Irrigator
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Paint for Freedom hosted an art gala at Patterson Covenant Church on Aug. 16, their third annual event to spread awareness about sex trafficking and slavery and to raise money for New Day for Children, a safe house and boarding school for girls who are victims of human trafficking.

Myriad styles and forms of artwork were on display: realistic portraits, abstract paintings, salt and pepper shakers with painted-on flowers, etc. Patterson Covenant’s pastor Dale Hensarling even contributed artwork, including a side profile of Jesus that he had painted during a Sunday service just before Easter.

Every penny of the $3,304.80 Paint for Freedom brought in this year through the art gala’s donations and silent auction was sent to New Day for Children. The house does not access public funds and operates through such donations and fundraisers, as well as grants from corporations.

“We rely on places like this church,” said spokesperson and founding member Kathy Wilson when referring to the fact that all of the caring and rehabilitation for the girls under their wing happens on-site at New Day for Freedom’s undisclosed location in California. “We have the girls day-in, day-out, week-in, week-out. They have to be fed. They’re hungry teens.”

In the campaign’s first year, during a much smaller, donation-only event, Paint for Freedom raised about $400. Last year, they multiplied that number by 10, bringing in approximately $4,000. While this year was just shy of $4,000, Michelle Lum, who leads Paint for Freedom alongside Chris Collier, is grateful for the turnout.

“I feel like more awareness was created this year than last year,” said Lum. “And more artists participated, so I’m very humbled.”

Lum would like to see the campaign continue to grow, allowing for them to provide support to multiple organizations.

“We’d like to be able to work with the Mark Klaas Foundation in the future,” said Lum. “He’s a humble, amazing spirit. I shared with him what we’re doing, because not only is rehabilitation part of the process with victims, but they need to be rescued.”

Efforts for expansion were already on display at the Aug. 16 gala. A number of donated paintings came from outside the Patterson community—from inmates who participate in the program.

“They just want to give back to the community that they once neglected,” said Lum. “It’s a mission of the church to give them an opportunity to channel that good energy in a positive light.”

Most of the inmates are lifers, and are serving in prisons all around the state, including San Luis Obispo Men’s Colony, Jamestown’s Sierra Conservation Center and San Quentin State Prison.

“That to me is a really special thing,” said Wilson. “I’ve spoken now in prisons a few times, and these guys really want to give back. Some of them have such good hearts and want to atone for the reasons that they’re in prison in the first first place. It’s really meaningful to me and to the girls that inmates are participating in this.”

Lum will be speaking this weekend at a Valley State Prison recovery program about Paint for Freedom.

Though the art galas are annual events, Lum accepts artwork year-round. Paint for Freedom art nights at Patterson Covenant Church will begin again in January 2015. Anyone interested in participating or donating artwork can contact Michelle Lum at 408-318-8650 for further information.

Nathan Duckworth can be contacted at 209-892-6187 ext. 24 or nathan@pattersonirrigator.com.
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