Michelle Kelley considers her children more than survivors and much more than victims.
They are champions.
“They're champions because honestly of the work that we've gotten through Sunbeam and Educare. They are going to be completely different people than they were headed to be when we got them,” Kelley said.
In 2010, Kelley began fostering — and later adopted — Izzy, who just turned 7, and Noah, 4, through Sunbeam Family Services, a nonprofit that serves central Oklahoma's most vulnerable citizens.
The siblings started their critical early childhood education at Oklahoma City Educare, a special school for at-risk children ages birth to 5, for which Sunbeam is managing partner.
Oklahoma City painter Sue Hale captured the Kelleys' uplifting story in “Forever Family,” the title painting of her new art exhibition benefiting OKC Educare. The fundraising exhibit opens Friday night during the monthly Paseo Gallery Walk at In Your Eye Studio & Gallery.
“I think Oklahoma City Educare is just critical to this community,” said Hale, one of 12 gallery artists at In Your Eye. “You know, every child is an artist. In fact, if you ask them, they all raise their hands.”
For the third year, the artist is making her annual showcase at In Your Eye a benefit for a worthy nonprofit. Hale became close friends with Kelley and Kelli Dupuy, Sunbeam's director of marketing and development, during their long tenures at the Oklahoma Publishing Co., giving the painter a close-up view of the specialized schooling and care OKC Educare offers its 212 students.
“It is a national model and ... we are working with children who are at risk for school failure, which means a lot of different things. We're working with children who come from backgrounds of generational poverty, domestic violence, chronic unemployment. We serve children in foster care, we serve children with behavioral needs and identified special needs, all those different factors that really serve as barriers to success for students,” Dupuy said.
Throughout November, Hale will exhibit about 20 paintings in a wide range of sizes, along with hand-painted trinket boxes, prints and greeting cards, with all sales benefiting Educare. In addition, several other In Your Eye artists have donated pieces that will be sold to benefit the educational program.