Colleen Hochberg is Product & Marketing Director for Innovation at Hallmark Cards and a member of the CEF Board of Directors.
It is common to hear parents use the phrase “it takes a village” to describe the network of grandparents, neighbors, co-workers and friends that all help their family get through life, including soccer practice carpools, meal trains, school pick up, letting the dog out and much more. This same phrase, “it takes a village,” came to my mind as I reflected upon the Catholic Education Foundation Futures Art Event at Boulevard on February 8.
When I saw this piece of art at the event that night, I noticed how beautiful it was from afar. As I got a closer look, it truly took my breath away. The combination of hundreds of tiny monochromatic squares in varying shades of blue were placed in exactly the right spot to all come together to depict our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Every time I looked at the art, my mind was trying to comprehend how an artist could plan such a piece of art; it was unbelievable to me. Then I heard the story of the artist or, more accurately, the artists. Each year for the CEF Art Event, each of the 22 CEF schools donate a piece of student art, which serve as the prizes of the evening’s raffle. It turns out this piece of art was exactly that, donated by the 7th and 8th grade students at Holy Cross School in Overland Park. The students worked on this piece for over a month, with each student painting several squares. It took a village to create this beautiful work of art.
The Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) provides children in need with scholarships to attend Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. There are 22 CEF schools in northeast Kansas, with CEF providing more than 1,300 scholarships at those schools. Once a student is selected for a CEF scholarship, they potentially can receive assistance through high school graduation, and 98% of CEF students move on to attend college, compared to only 30% of their peers. CEF is truly breaking the poverty cycle.
The CEF Futures Committee is a group of young professionals mostly in their twenties and thirties that help raise over $40,000 annually for the Guardian Angel Fund. This fund provides emergency assistance for families at CEF schools who unexpectedly fall into financial crisis due to varying circumstances.
I joined the CEF board in December of last year, when I began to work with this group of “Futures.” Having just turned 40, I initially was humbled to be considered “young enough and cool enough” to serve with this group, but after my first meeting I quickly became humbled for another reason. Many of these young professionals don’t have children of their own, or are in their first couple years of being parents. Many are early in their careers, newly married, or sleep deprived from having an infant in their home, yet they choose to spend countless hours working to help raise funds for the CEF Guardian Angel Fund. They are stepping up to be “the village” for families and children they don’t know. I am truly blessed to be a part of the CEF Board of Directors, and to get to work alongside this CEF Futures village. I hope you will consider joining me.