As an eager law student in our nation’s capital several years ago, I spent my final year of law school practicing in a program that provided pro bono legal counsel in criminal and family cases in federal court. Among the many sobering realities of the job was seeing the tragic, heartbreaking effects of child abuse that can transcend and haunt every aspect of a young person’s life.
But for abuse victims in Dallas County, the generosity of Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s Art For Advocacy supporters is helping to paint a much brighter picture for the future.
This year’s record-breaking gala, co-chaired by sisters Lindsay Allen Billingsley and Carly Allen-Martin, drew a crowd of 750 and was the largest Art For Advocacy in the event’s history.
DCAC works together “with public and private agencies to investigate, prosecute and provide healing services for child abuse cases.” Art For Advocacy is DCAC’s biggest annual fundraising event.
“Tonight we are celebrating the resilience that brings us together,” Billingsley says.
In a glittering evening presented by City Electric Supply, Dallas socialites, interior designers, collectors and overall champions of the cause lit up the General Datatech warehouse to meet Billingsley’s call to action.
Allen-Martin, a celebrated Dallas artist, donated a brilliantly-colored abstract piece to the silent auction, which included works contributed by fellow Dallas artists such as Tom Hoitsma, Brenda Bogart and Melissa Ellis.
In total, 84 pieces of art, including works by internationally renowned artists Hunt Slonem, Mads Christensen and Ashley Longshore were up for sale.
After a seated dinner, Billingsley and Allen-Martin’s remarks underscored the cause to save “Jane and John Doe” (DCAC aliases to protect child victims’ identities). The sold-out crowd responded with a youthful enthusiasm for the live auction, and more than a few friendly bidding wars ensued..
One such tussle was had over a piece donated by artist Meredith Pardue and her representative gallery, Laura Rathe Fine Art, as bidders affectionately dubbed the piece “the Hungry Caterpillar,” citing a resemblance to the beloved children’s book character.
At more than $35,000, the winning bid for a Shane Pennington sculpture set an Art For Advocacy record for the highest-ever auction sale. The auction proceeds, which DCAC chief marketing officer Sarah Burns anticipates to be “the most successful ever” will help the organization continue assisting more than 6,500 children and their non-offending family members who are hurt by abuse and violence in Dallas each year.
Working with DCAC “warms your heart and makes you feel like you have made a difference,” says Melissa Hernandez, a bilingual family advocate who has been with the program for two years. “It’s wonderful to see this turnout for the cause — the kids would love to know that everyone is here for them.
“They just light up.”
One of the paintings for sale at the event, entitled “Happy Space,” was created through a collaboration between DCAC children and Christopher Martin of The Christopher Martin Gallery.Just like its littlest artists, the piece’s listed value? Priceless.