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The weather was beautiful as guests drifted up the front walk of the Lubeznik Center for the Arts during the 3rd Annual LOK Young Artist Expo on June 3rd. Local poet musician, Edie Rene Miller, played her guitar and recited her poetry for the gathering crowd as they entered the gallery.
LOK staff Simpson O’Brien, Arlene Francis and Kathy Sipple and volunteers, Liz Brenel and Yo Halliar, assembled behind their welcome table in the entry, greeting guests, helping students acclimate and accepting gifts from donors.
Student ambassadors Charlie, Siobhan and Jayla, along with other young volunteers greeted guests at the door, providing them with the rundown on the night’s exciting activities. Jordan, a friend of one of the South Shore Dance Alliance dance troupe members arrived and asked, “how can I help?” His simple question was representative of the overall mood and energy of the event. The evening is a culmination of lots of orchestrated, hard work on the part of the artists, dancers, musicians as well as their teachers and parents, plus lots of help from interested others who are happy to pitch in to make the evening a success.
The art on display from Bloomington Boys & Girls Club and Northwest Indiana artists in the Nipsco gallery was as impressive and diverse as ever. Janet Bloch, Education Director at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, lovingly hang the artwork and prepare the gallery to be welcoming for visitors with special nametags for students artists and their parents and plenty of kid-friendly snacks.
Several young artists gamely agreed to give an impromptu video interview via Facebook live streaming video for new LOK volunteer, Yo Halliar. Yo was a brand new volunteer and new to streaming video as well, but she made it happen, allowing people who couldn’t attend to share in the excitement of the evening.
Returning artists Jack Boardman displayed several pieces including a Picasso-inspired self portrait and an embroidered piece. Origami artist Hayley Schuberth displayed several paper swans and
Drums signaled the approach of the 6:00 performing arts start time. Drummers and dancers in traditional African dress led visitors into Lubeznik’s main gallery for a highly energetic opening number, a traditional African welcome dance, chosen by South Shore Dance Alliance Artistic Director, Larry Brewer.
As the drumming faded, Lubezik Center’s Erika Hanner, welcomed visitors, joking “that has got to be the hardest act to follow, ever!” She thanked the parents for the part they played in getting kids to their practices and making arts a priority for their kids, even when it wasn’t easy to do. She also thanked LOK Wishing Tree Foundation for its role in the unique partnership both organizations enjoy.
Next music instructor Sara Miller and her four young violinists offered a few numbers. Charlie Brown, 15, followed with a violin solo. Charlie was the lone performer in attendance from Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. Charlie was chosen as a student ambassador this year; he began in the award winning LOK Performing Arts Program at the age of 10 and has steadily progressed with much practice each year.
After the violins, the music tempo changed to a decidedly uptempo beat with Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars. Even a little technical difficulty with the sound system could not distract the young dancers from delivering their best performance. They patiently waited, silent and in their positions, as the sound issue was corrected, then showed their stuff — some acrobatics and some old school break dancing moves and more.
The South Shore Dance Alliance returned to the floor after a costume change and performed an enchanting group number as well as a duet with student ambassadors, Sioban and Jayla. Siobhan, a graduating senior, went to the Alvin Ailey Summer intensive last summer, and the summer before she received a full scholarship from SSDA. Sophomore Jayla will attend the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive in New York City this summer; last year she received a full scholarship from SSDA as well.
Kathy Sipple from LOK Wishing Tree Foundation offered brief closing remarks, thanking all for the part they played in the program’s success. “The foundation feels very good about offering scholarship funds to our arts partners. They take this seed money and grow it into something beautiful like what you saw tonight. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to raise arts opportunities for youth? It takes a community. It takes you. We appreciate every bit of help, whether in the form of time, talent or treasure.”
Please consider making a donation and/or getting involved as a volunteer or artist mentor/sponsor. With your help, we can sustain these important programs for our youth.
The Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation is donating 18 carbon monoxide detectors to be installed during this year’s National Rebuilding Work Day on Saturday, April 30th.
Rebuilding Together – Duneland is the local affiliate of the nation’s largest nonprofit volunteer organization Rebuilding Together, based in Washington, D.C. RTD’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people in the Duneland School District who are physically and/or financially struggling through the rehabilitation of their homes. RTD is on track for its most ambitious year ever, with 14 homes and 5 community projects that need help.
LOK Wishing Tree Foundation partners with First Alert, a leader in residential fire and carbon monoxide detection devices, to provide free and discounted CO detectors to those in need. 18 detectors have been donated to Rebuilding Together – Duneland for this year’s National Rebuilding Work Day. Chesterton Fire Chief John Jarga will do the installs.
LOK founder Dot Kesling states, “When we learned of this effort to help families in need rehabilitate their homes, we wanted to ensure a carbon monoxide detector was among the improvements made. It’s a small insurance policy to protect the lives of the homeowners, but one that is too often overlooked.”
We are excited to announce a new partnership with established artists who want to help support educational and enrichment opportunities for young artists. Virginia Phillips is the inaugural artist helping to launch this program.
Philips is a long time friend of LOK Wishing Tree Founder, Dot Kesling. The two met through a mutual interest in interior design. Dot was taken with the movement, color, energy and emotion she saw in Virginia’s paintings. “The fit with our organization’s focus on youthful, creative energy was a natural fit,” said Kesling.
Virginia Phillips has generously donated use of three of her images by LOK. The images below will be available via our Society6 site on a variety of products such as iPhone cases, laptop cases, pillows, mugs and more. A portion of each sale will help fund arts opportunities for youth. If you have a request for an item not listed, please email us to make a request.
Her art is all the more remarkable since she continues to create it despite health setbacks due to multiple sclerosis and advancing age. A documentary called “Virgina, The Courage to Create” was released in 2015 on Lakeshore Public television, chronicling her story. The trailer is viewable below. Check local public television listings for replays.
Founded in 2007 by Kay Wuchner Marcus and Heidi Pollizotto, the Leap into the Arts gala has been a major fundraising event benefiting and showcasing youth vocal, dance, and orchestra organizations in Northwest Indiana. Thanks to Kay and Heidi’s tireless efforts and the many Leap volunteers, in the last seven years, the gala has raised over $100,000 for participants.
This year’s participating groups, all 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, include:
Northwest Indiana Symphony Youth Orchestra
“Leap” provides much needed funds for these outstanding nonprofit organizations, and the gala provides a wonderful venue to showcase these talented NW Indiana youth.
We look forward to seeing you February 26, 2016 at this exciting and worthwhile event!
Friday, February 26th 6-10pm
Halls of St. George, Schererville, Indiana
Save the date! Friday, June 3, 2016 from 5-8pm
The Third Annual Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation Young Artist Expo will be held on Friday, June 3rd from 5-8pm at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City. The expo will be a family-friendly, multimedia showcase of lively youth visual and performing arts that will include participants from each of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s three partnering arts organizations: the South Shore Dance Alliance, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington.
“Showcasing these kids’ talents—and the fruits of our labors—has been a dream of mine since the beginning, and we are pleased to continue this tradition after a very successful first year.” said LOK Founder, Dot Kesling. “The kids energy last year was amazing! They are so excited to share the results of their hard work and commitment.”
We were thrilled to receive this update from one of the talented young musicians we have had the pleasure to work with. It touches our hearts that someone who has benefited from one aspect of our mission — supporting young artists — is giving back in such a heartfelt way by supporting the other part of our work, saving lives by informing the public about the dangers of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here’s the letter we received from Charlie Brown, age 15:
I am very pleased to share what the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has done for me. Dot Kesling is an amazing person; touching anyone’s heart.
I worked three (carbon monoxide awareness) events with Dot at the wonderful Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington. She took me under her wing and showed me what’s going on. She asked me what I wanted to work and she was very surprised to hear I wanted to work the front door. I’ve gotten a lot of signatures over the years to help the cause. Dot told me that her loving daughter, also a Big Sister at the Boys and Girls Club, died from an invisible gas called “Carbon Monoxide.” I was very sad to hear that. A parent should never have to endure the sadness or emptiness of losing a child. I decided it was my duty to help the cause and make sure no one else loses anyone from this deadly gas. I learned people skills, cooperation and communication.
I feel good just knowing that I’m trying to help save lives. I have a great deal of love for Dot–I consider her family. She is truly one of a kind. I’m pleased to go into the Boys and Girls Club every year and hear people say, “I already have a Carbon Monoxide detector.” I’ve also seen detector information in many different places; one for example, is the BMV manual and textbook in driving school. The word is getting out there and Dot Kesling is responsible for doing so. She is doing something that people need and we are ever so close to making it a law in Indiana; even after that we won’t be done. We might go to all states because this needs to happen and I’m very happy to be apart of this amazing organization.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
More about carbon monoxide
To learn more about what we are doing to promote CO awareness and how you can help, click here.
Learn more about Charlie!
We are very proud of Charlie’s accomplishments in music as well. To read more about Charlie and the story about how he acquired a second hand violin a few years ago, click here. To see and hear a video from Charlie (almost 3 years ago), view it here:
At the time of this writing Thanksgiving weekend continues into Saturday, memories of meals shared around tables with loved ones a few days ago leads us to remember many other things we are thankful for.
LOK has been busy this year, participating and assisting with a number of different CO awareness events. We greatly appreciate the support of all who made this possible:
- Many fire houses who hosted events
- Dozens of new volunteers who staffed events
- Hundreds of people who signed our online CO petition
- Several cities who dedicated specific CO awareness days, including LaPorte, Indiana.
- First Alert, who matched our purchase of CO detectors with free detectors and made additional detectors available at a discount.
- Journalists who helped to get our message out. We value the messages you help us create and document them on our website’s Media Mentions section.
- The Unity Foundation of LaPorte County who awarded us a grant for $2500 which will allow us to extend our outreach beyond what our budgeted amount would have allowed.
Thank you, our donors and supporters, for your ongoing financial support and for your willingness to help us spread the word about this important initiative!
Lindsey O’Brien Kesling was 22 years-old when she died in her Scottsdale apartment from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Scottsdale Fire Department responded to the 911 call in November 2010.
“Losing a child for any reason breaks a parent’s heart, but losing them to something that could have been prevented makes the loss so much heavier to bear,” said Dot Kesling, Lindsey’s mother. Part of the the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about carbon monoxide poisoning and how to prevent it, particularly in the coming winter months.
Several organizations are hosting CO awareness event in partnership with the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation, along with First Alert, a leader in residential fire and CO detection devices.
The event will be held throughout the coming months. First Alert is providing 20% discount coupons on select carbon monoxide detectors at each event. So far, the following organizations and fire departments have indicated they will host events and/or will distribute a limited number of free CO detectors:
- October 1, 3-6 pm
Boys and Girls Club
311 S. Lincoln St.
- October 3, 10-2pm
Michigan City, Indiana
at Cool Spring Township Fire Dept.
7111 W 400 N
- October 3, 10-1pm
Portage Fire Dept.
3401 Swanson Rd.
- Oct 4, 12-3 pm EDT
South Bend, Indiana
South Bend Fire Dept.
1222 S. Michigan St.
- October 10, 10-1 pm
Chesterton Fire Dept.
- October 10, 1-4 pm
Center Township Fire Dept.
5637 W. Wilmen’s Trail
- Oct. 10 10-2 pm
La Porte Fire Dept.
807 W. 18th Street
- October 10, 12-3pm
Michigan City Fire Dept.
2510 E. Michigan Blvd.
- October 22, 12-3 pm
Rolling Prairie, Indiana
5543 E. 350 N.
- December 5, 8-noon
Elkhart Fire Dept.
500 East St.
Please check back for updates, as more details may become available as the season progresses. If your organization is interested in hosting an event, learn more here.
- Watch and share this informational video about the dangers of carbon monoxide, created by Lindsey’s brother William Kesling and her cousin, Timmy Baron.
- Share these ready-to-go social media updates suitable for Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to let your friends know how to protect themselves from the dangers of accidental CO poisoning.
- Protect your home and those you love by purchasing and installing a carbon monoxide detector. Click here for a 20% discount coupon from First Alert. Makes a unique and thoughtful holiday gift.
- Sign our petition to strengthen laws about carbon monoxide detector requirements.
We just finished celebrating the hard work and discipline of young dreamers during the second annual Young Artist Expo (YAE). During this time, precision dancers and violin virtuosos performed their well-rehearsed recitals in front of the public and young artists’ masterpieces were shared from the gallery walls.
The YAE is a showcase for young artists from the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, South Shore Dance Alliance and the Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. Indiana. Over the last few years, each of these organizations have become true partners of the Lindsey O’Brien Kesling (LOK) Wishing Tree Foundation.
All of this activity brings me to a time in the year when I reflect on all that we’ve done in our Foundation’s short time. In addition to news about the YAE, allow me to take a moment and update you on a few of the other activities and successes of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation.
In this last year, Foundation partners:
Solidified our two-fold mission. “LOK Wishing Tree Foundation Lives Love through carbon monoxide education and unleashing the artistic dreams of youth.” LOK encourages young artists to wish and dream, and funds opportunities that turn dreams into reality. It also raise awareness and educate people about the dangers associated with carbon monoxide.
Nurtured dreams of young artists. A partnership with the Lubeznik Center for the Arts provides after school programs including: drawing, painting and photography classes, violin lessons and dance instruction to public school children in Michigan City Schools.
Provided scholarships to talented young artists like Peace. Peace has been participating in the LOK Performing Arts Program offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington, Ind. for several years. The award winning program provided her with a scholarship for an advanced show choir called, Syncopation, and an opportunity to be trained by local song & dance professionals. She participated in a production in front of an audience of 3000 people last Christmas. About the experience she said, “It was the biggest crowd I’d ever seen, but once I got on state, I thought, ‘I can do this.’” Peace hopes this is just the beginning of her performing arts career.
Saved lives through raising public awareness about the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning. Partnering with local fire districts we spread the word about this silent killer. We developed a free resource kit (containing press releases, social media templates, coloring sheets, banners and posters, and petitions) for organizations to host their own Carbon Monoxide Awareness Event. Additionally we provided carbon monoxide detectors. We’ve heard first-hand accounts of how these efforts save lives! We invite you to read about these events and first-hand stories and request your own free kit at http://www.lokwishingtree.org.
And partners like you blessed the Foundation through your generous support. LOK continues unleashing dreams and saving lives only with the help of our donors.
Continued support of the LOK Foundation means we continue to support our partners in the arts; providing uninterrupted arts classes and dance instruction, music lessons, and innovative programs for our kids. It also means we will continue our work protecting lives with in-home CO detectors and educating families about the dangers of CO poisoning.
Donations of all amounts are appreciated. Please consider a gift of support.
- $25 will provide a Carbon Monoxide detector for a family in need.
- $50 provides one weekly lesson for ten children in the Michigan City after school program.
- $100 awards a ‘Lubeznik Center for the Arts Class’ scholarship to a student in need.
- $150 provides six teacher hours for conducting a specialized three-session class for dance, instrumental, vocal or improvisational theater students.
- $500 provides two local firehouses with CO awareness and prevention kits; promotional materials, social media support, children’s activities and CO detectors for families in need.
- $1000 allows a child to see the world differently through the lens of a camera—providing kids with the opportunity to attend one of two, 12-week photography classes, learn photo techniques, and editing skills.
Thank you for the encouragement you have provided to LOK in these last three, short years. Thank you for your support of our work to unleash the dreams of our children through the arts. Thank you for your concern to save lives with the use of Carbon Monoxide detectors. You have my heartfelt gratitude.
You help us Live Love!
Dot Kesling, Founder
P.S. Enclosed in this envelope is a paper butterfly that contains wild flower seeds. On it I would like you to write a wish, dream or prayer. Return it in the envelope provided, and we’ll hang it, along with all the others, on the Wishing Tree.
Your donation may also be included in the same envelope or made directly online at http://www.lokwishingtree.org/.