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posted: 4/20/2014 1:01 AM

Arts Appetizer will help fund youth programs

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  • Markeyah Johnson, 11, left, and Alexis Ruiz, 11, perform during a rehearsal of "Destined Lives," an original opera created and produced entirely by 10-to-13-year-old students involved in Hamilton Wings' SCORE program. Johnson is from Elgin and Ruiz is from South Elgin.

       Markeyah Johnson, 11, left, and Alexis Ruiz, 11, perform during a rehearsal of "Destined Lives," an original opera created and produced entirely by 10-to-13-year-old students involved in Hamilton Wings' SCORE program. Johnson is from Elgin and Ruiz is from South Elgin.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2012

  • Bridgette Rathjen, 11, of Elgin performs a solo during a rehearsal of "Destined Lives," an original opera created and produced entirely by 10-to-13-year-old students involved in Hamilton Wings' SCORE. An upcoming Arts Appetizer event will raise funds for SCORE and other Hamilton Wings programs.

       Bridgette Rathjen, 11, of Elgin performs a solo during a rehearsal of "Destined Lives," an original opera created and produced entirely by 10-to-13-year-old students involved in Hamilton Wings' SCORE. An upcoming Arts Appetizer event will raise funds for SCORE and other Hamilton Wings programs.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2012

  • Dr. Rise Jones co-founded Hamilton Wings with her mother, the late Ann Jones.

      Dr. Rise Jones co-founded Hamilton Wings with her mother, the late Ann Jones.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • Guests can sample appetizers from a variety of Elgin restaurants when Hamilton Wings holds its second annual Arts Appetizer Fundraiser on Sunday, April 27, at IJORERE The Invitation.

      Guests can sample appetizers from a variety of Elgin restaurants when Hamilton Wings holds its second annual Arts Appetizer Fundraiser on Sunday, April 27, at IJORERE The Invitation.
    Courtesy of Hamilton Wings

 
By Jamie Greco
Daily Herald correspondent

Food, arts and fundraising will come together when Hamilton Wings holds its second annual Arts Appetizer event on Sunday, April 27.

The fundraiser, which is limited to 60 attendees, will offer guests a chance to taste test a variety of samples from Elgin restaurants, while hearing from some of the students involved in Hamilton Wings programs.

"We've asked downtown and area eateries if they'd like to take part by donating a treat or something people can sample," said Board Fund Development Chairwoman Danae Molitor.

"We know business is hard but if we can support the businesses, get their name out there, it's a win for both of us," said Deanna Cates, Hamilton Wings' director of Operations and Programs.

At this writing, nine restaurants have supplied samples or gift certificates including: In the Neighborhood Deli, Pastigel Bakery, Al's Cafe and Creamery, Mr. Tequila's, Blue Box, Pita Puff, Chooch's, Elgin Public House, and Green Jade.

Hamilton Wings, which was incorporated in 1997, was founded in 1995 by Dr. Rise Jones and her late mother, Ann as a tribute to her late father, Dr. Charles Hamilton Jones. Ann Jones was a principal at Garfield Elementary School, Elgin.

The program, which served 700 children last year, targets diverse, economically and/or socially disadvantaged children, ages 2-17, who have limited access to arts and enrichment programs at school and at home.

Families involved with Hamilton Wings programs are required to attend workshops during the regular program season and are encouraged to take part in field trips and take home activities.

"We make an effort to fill the gap when public schools eliminate the arts," Cates said. "All of our programs focus on team building, being able to work effectively with people in large and small groups as they develop whatever art product they are doing.

"Being able to present whatever it is you're creating in front of a group of your peers; that takes lots of repetition so that you feel confident," Cates added.

According to Cates, studies prove that kids who participate in the arts achieve better ACT and SAT scores, have higher attendance rates in school and are more successful as adults.

"Anytime you get to move a thing or create something from their own imagination that links to a core curriculum subject they're learning is enhanced and further ingrained," she said.

Hamilton Wings' classes aren't the usual painting, singing and writing offerings young people have grown accustomed to, however. The organization's opportunities are varied and unique.

Among the offerings is a physics based class called Mechanical Mayhem which challenges participants to create compound machinery, focusing on levers, pulleys and gears, and present them to their fellow students which increases presentation skills in a creative and fun environment.

Girls in Motion extends classroom curriculum after school for fourth- and fifth-graders with interactive, art-based strategies with the support of high school mentors. Self-esteem and body awareness are covered as well, with a certified personal trainer who guides the girls in dance and movement.

SCORE (Students Creating Opera to Reinforce Education) takes place throughout the school year, culminating in the presentation of a student-written, produced and performed opera at Elgin Community College. This year's show, the 14th annual production, will premiere on July 19 at the Blizzard Theatre.

In 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, SCORE was honored by The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and its partner agencies, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities, Hamilton Wings' as a Coming UP Taller Semifinalist, which distinguished the program it as one of the top after-school and out-of-school arts and humanities-based programs in the United States.

As is the case with many not-for-profits, Hamilton Wings has found the down turn in the economy to affect its fundraising capabilities.

"The arts funding heyday of the 90s isn't there anymore," Cates said. "For example, we got funding from the Kraft foundation a couple of years ago, and they shifted their funding to feeding the hungry."

"Ironically, for Hamilton Wings, our primary target group is those people who are socially and economically challenged," Cates continued. "We're providing a resource to their family by having a safe and educational after school experience, rather than going home or getting in trouble or having so much unstructured time. We are enhancing what they are learning in school."

Some of the children involved in the Hamilton Wings programs will attend the fundraiser to share their personal stories about the organization, according to Molitor.

"I am truly amazed by the kids at these events," she said. "They tell the group what they've gotten out of it and that, to me, is so inspiring. People who will be attending will be getting hands-on information from the kids themselves."

As was the case last year, the fundraiser is meant to be lighthearted and fun, according to Molitor.

"We're going to keep it light," she said. "We like to have audience participation. Dr. Jones gets everyone going and we get the audience involved and last year we had an art project for them to do."

The event will also include a silent auction.

Molitor strongly recommends reservations as the downtown Elgin venue, IJORERE The Invitation, will only allow for 60 guests. For details, visit www.hamiltonwings.org.

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