Two weeks ago we gathered with a full house of wonderful friends for our 5th Annual Benefit at The Triple Door, sponsored this year by Storyville Coffee Company and Gabriel Boone Photography. What a fantastic night! We’re still amazed and can’t stop smiling.
This is such an exciting event each year because it highlights the connection between our First Aid Arts supporters and the trauma survivors who are directly impacted by their generosity. We structure the benefit to let our supporters experience first hand the values we teach trauma care providers in our trainings. These core values -- hospitality, collaboration, creativity, beauty, generosity, intentionality, self-care, being trauma-informed, and having fun -- are precisely designed to honor the trauma survivors we exist to serve, and they drive everything we do.
For those of you who couldn’t join us in person, let us walk you through the evening.
Imagine we’re standing on Union Street in downtown Seattle just outside one of Seattle’s historic theaters. It’s getting a little chilly out here, but we have our tickets in hand and the doors just opened. We step inside a beautiful space where countless artists have performed and shared their stories through the years, and we can almost hear the echoes of their joy, pain, and resilience.
Friendly volunteers welcome us and invite us to mingle and explore. One of the first things we see as we enter is an easel displaying a 3 x 3’ coloring page and a bucket of colored markers designed to bring people together in creative collaboration. Guests of all ages are encouraged to make their mark here, and by the end of the evening, it will be as much a conversation piece as a work of art.
Nearby Gabriel Boone Photography has once again provided their ever-popular photo booth so friends can commemorate their time together with a fun photo-strip. Just beyond that, cheerful volunteers work a merch table, which displays an array of high quality First Aid Arts gear guaranteed to make everyone’s Christmas shopping a snap: “Love Creatively” tees, pocket journals, baby beanies, Ashley Rodriguez’s famous Not Without Salt Cookie Mix, and other fun stocking stuffers. (It’s not too late to purchase these items in our online shop!)
As we make our way to our seats, Zach Fleury and his band are already on stage setting the perfect mood with their beautifully smooth tunes — an eclectic mix of musical styles that delights our ears and energizes our expectations. You are met with intentionality as you sit down to find the program for the evening, noise makers and glow sticks to unify the room in celebration during the giving moment, and a First Aid Arts pocket journal for you to take as a tool for creativity in your own life. Wild Ginger wait staff stop by the table to take food and drink orders, returning with plates full of tasty Pan-Asian cuisine that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.
And now it’s time for the program to begin. Rodney Sherwood, our ebullient host for the evening, introduces each speaker, beginning with President and Co-Founder, Curtis Romjue, who shares the story of how First Aid Arts came to be.
Next, Executive Vice President, Matthew Smith, explains the science behind trauma’s effects on the brain and how creativity facilitates healing.
Then Ruth Yeo-Peterman, Vice President of Program Development and Training, walks us through the highlights of the past year. We learn that, in 2016, First Aid Arts:
Developed a Refugee Advisory Council consisting of 10 leaders in the field to adapt the HAT program for refugees and displaced persons
Hosted multiple Trainings in the US, as well as in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Austria
Strengthened existing partnerships and developed new relationships with trauma-informed organizations
Honored its commitment to professional development and self care with a gathering on Orcas Island
Co-Founder, Grace Romjue, takes the stage now to turn our eyes to the future. It’s sobering to consider the magnitude of need among refugees, displaced persons, and other trauma survivors, but it’s also exciting to see doors opening all around world for the arts to help wounded hearts heal beautifully.
By this point in the evening, our bellies and our hearts are full. In six short years, First Aid Arts has trained 599 staff from 231 organizations in 31 countries! And this is only the beginning of good things to come.
Finally it’s time to turn the spotlight on the most important people in the room: the friends and supporters who’ve come tonight not only to celebrate past successes and exciting dreams, but to generously help First Aid Arts achieve those dreams by reaching year-end fundraising goals.
Rodney leads us through the Giving Moment—the mood is festive and fun, and by the end of it all, the evening’s target of raising $80,000 toward total year-end goals has been met and surpassed! The atmosphere in the room is electric. What a thrilling opportunity and honor to be part of something that is making such a profound difference in the lives of so many.
And this is where the night of the Benefit merges with the present. Because, even if you couldn’t be with us at The Triple Door on November 28, you — all of our friends — are the ones who make this possible. Thanks to your intentionality and generosity, trauma survivors are receiving the tools and support they need to heal mentally and emotionally.
If you weren’t able to join us at The Triple Door, please consider giving a year-end gift and join us in this important work. You can donate online or send a check to:
First Aid Arts
P.O. Box 31325
Seattle, WA 98103
Without you, First Aid Arts would not exist. Thank you with all our hearts for your friendship this past year. Here’s to 2017 being the most beautiful yet.