Van Go Mobile Arts
Saturday's fifth annual Van Go Mobile Arts What Floats Your Boat fundraiser at Clinton Lake Marina came together with what keeps Van Go afloat daily: community effort.
"So many members of our business community and friends of Van Go and community volunteers make this possible," said Sarah Smarsh, development director for Van Go.
She said the event has grown and 600 people attended this year.
The fundraiser, which features art from Van Go's art apprentices, is an opportunity for the nonprofit organization to promote its mission of helping at-risk youth, and it's also "a big piece of our financial puzzle to make sure we're able to serve kids year round as we do," Smarsh said.
"We use art as a vehicle to deliver job training skills and hourly wages that are much needed to kids living in poverty," she said.
She said Van Go provides 9,200 direct service hours every year to young people ages 14 to 21.
"That definitely comes at a cost, so fundraisers like this are absolutely key to make sure we can sustain ourselves," Smarsh said.
Sustaining the youth of the community is the purpose of a key Van Go program, Jobs in the Arts Makes Sense (JAMS).
Keiasia Harris, 16, Lawrence High School junior, has been in JAMS for two years. She said at first she was in it for the money. But new friendships and learning new skills, and art creations - projects she said she never thought she'd be able to make - kept her coming back.
"It's helped me with my attitude," she said. "It teaches me things that I would need to learn in order to go to a new job."
She sat back and enjoyed seeing all of the art that apprentices like herself made, including a mosaic birdbath.
Also appreciating the artwork was Cheri Drake, of Lawrence, who attended the event.
The mosaic birdbaths and outdoor umbrellas caught her eye.
"I might get lucky," she said of the auction bids.
She said she and a group of friends attend the fundraiser every year.
"We think this is a great organization. It does wonderful things for our community ... A community that takes care of its kids is important, because that's our future."