By Austin Dave/SCVNEWS.com
Artists of all backgrounds gathered at the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center Saturday night to celebrate women who have broken through barriers in their journey to success.
The second annual Empowering HeARTs gala and art exhibit features 12 narratives depicting the real life stories of a dozen Santa Clarita women.
Each honoree was nominated by individuals and organizations for their contributions to the community.
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Their stories are accompanied by photographs, paintings and sculptures created by local artists.
The event benefits Single Mothers Outreach, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower single parents and their children by providing help, support and resources that drive families to self-sustainability.
Single Mothers Outreach was founded in 1994 by a single mother seeking connections with other single parents in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The foundation incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit charity four years later.
Today the volunteer-driven organization assists parents with the tools needed to move overcome personal obstacles and to provide better lives for their families.
“No other organization focuses on strengthening parents,” said DaAnne Smith, executive director of Single Mothers Outreach.
“We have organizations here in Santa Clarita – the Child and Family Center, the Boys & Girls Club, SCV Youth Project – but who takes care of the parents?” asked Smith. “That’s where we come in.”
The foundation provides multiple services, from providing clothing to case management resources to providing technological training for families coming back into the workforce.
One of the key programs Single Mothers Outreach sponsors is Inspire, which helps families afford a little fun time.
“Parents can’t afford to take their kids to Magic Mountain or Disneyland or bowling,” Smith said. “Our charity leverages relationships with our faith-based and business communities to provide some of those values for them.”
Smith explained that surrounding areas have a need for services. She receives phone calls every week from areas outside of Santa Clarita.
“We’re definitely striking a chord for a need not met in this country as the number of single parents is growing,” she said. “We fill in those holes and give them the boost that they need. You strengthen a parent, you strengthen a whole family.”
The Empowering HeARTs Breaking Barriers collection will be on display at the Westfield Valencia Town Center from December through March 2012.