Helping Works

Helping Works by Anna Webb: Remembering Robert Manwill

Anna Webb.
Anna Webb.

The month of April, National Child Abuse Awareness Month, arrives with a certain tradition in southern Idaho, the annual Artists for Kids/Robert Manwill Scholarship auction. The event, now in its 6th year, will take place from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, April 24 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, 114 S. Plymouth Ave. in New Plymouth.

Each year, artists donate works to be auctioned. Proceeds go into the scholarship fund named for Manwill. He was killed by his mother’s boyfriend in 2009 in one of Idaho’s most high-profile crimes against a child. In 2019, the year he would have graduated from high school, the scholarship will go to a graduate, or graduates, from New Plymouth High School. The Four Rivers Healthy Community, an Ontario, Ore. nonprofit, is managing the scholarship fund.

The auction and scholarship began as the inspiration of art teacher and New Plymouth native Katy Belanger. She wanted to channel the death of 8-year-old Robert into something meaningful. Over the last six years, the fund has grown to $20,500. All proceeds from the auctions go to the scholarship fund (aside from a few hundred dollars taken out each year to host the event and manage the fund).

Belanger said that this year’s event will be similar to past events. One of the largest art pieces in the auction is a metal gate decorated with dragonflies created and donated by artists Pattie Young and James Dobney. Young worked with New Plymouth students from Robert’s class to create a similar gate last year. Zions Bank employees bought that gate for $600 and donated it back to New Plymouth. It’s now installed in the city’s park, said Belanger. Along with a memorial swing at New Plymouth Elementary, numerous photos and “Remember Robert” signs that crop up around New Plymouth every April, the gate is another tangible sign that the city hasn’t forgotten the crime.

Mike Rogers, owner of Precious Metal Arts in Boise, has donated to past Manwill scholarship auctions and will donate again this year -- a set of silver earrings and a ring.

“This was such a tragedy, I’m honored now to be part of this kind of event. Idaho artists are always generous,” said Rogers.

He has offered his shop as a drop-off spot for Boise area artists who want to contribute pieces for the auction. Precious Metal Arts, 280 N. 8th St., #50 in the Idaho Building, is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call Rogers at 363-9293 with questions.

Manwill-related events include “Robert’s Run,” a 1-mile run/walk on Saturday, April 25 at the track next to New Plymouth Elementary at 704 S. Plymouth Ave. The run is divided into three sections, 10 a.m. for elementary students, 10:20 a.m. for middle schoolers, 10:40 a.m. for high school students. Adults, parents, and community members can run at any time. The fee to participate is $15. Proceeds go to a scholarship fund for students in the class of 2015 at New Plymouth High School.

The invitation says: ‘Come party like an animal!’

Who could resist that? The MK Nature Center celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The big party, April 25 at the Center, 600 S. Walnut St. in Boise, will coincide with the Idaho Native Plant Society’s annual Native Plant Sale. That’s a lot of nature-loving festivity in one place, and you shouldn’t miss it. Here’s the line-up:

•  Native Plant Sale: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Proceeds from plant sales will support the native garden at the Idaho Botanical Garden, the biennial Idaho Rare Plant Conference, and a milkweed planting on May 15 at Lowell Elementary in Boise to teach students about the reliance of endangered monarch butterflies on milkweed as a food source. Part of the proceeds will also go to the MK Nature Center. Among the tantalizing plants for sale: buffalo berry, kinnikinnick and other groundcovers, blue camas, milkweed, fleabane, Indian rice grass and many kinds of penstemon.

•  Activities and games: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Payette Beer Garden, food from Burgerlicious: noon to 3:30 p.m.

•  Music by the Hokum Hi-Flyers: 2 to 4 p.m.

•  Live bird demonstrations at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Activity ticket price: $1, with discounts for multiple ticket purchases, food and drink sold separately. Proceeds will benefit the MK Nature Center.

‘Strong, Safe, Empowered’ Film Festival

Family Advocates hosts a free three-day film festival to “start the conversation about how various crimes impact victims as well as our communities.”

The films and discussions are free and open to the public. Events will take place in Ada and Canyon County. Film topics include violence in families. Discussions will focus on the community effects of child abuse.

Here’s the schedule:

•  5:30 p.m., April 21: Family Night at Family Advocates Caldwell Office, 920 Main St., Caldwell.

•  6 p.m., April 22: Short Film Night at Family Advocates Boise Office, 3010 W. State St., Boise.

•  5:30 p.m., April 23: Feature Film Night at the Overland Park Cinema, 7051 W. Overland Road, Boise.

Please RSVP or request more information by calling Nicole Hill at 345-3344 or contact her via email at

Family Advocates received at $5,000 grant through the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Community Awareness Project for the film festival.

Mona Golabek: Benefit performance for the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights

Concert pianist Mona Golabek comes to Boise to present “The Children of Willesden Lane,” her memoir and performance which tells the story of her mother’s survival during World War II.

The event, a fundraiser for the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights in Boise, is at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 29 at the Morrison Center at Boise State University. Tickets are $10, available online through the Morrison Center, or by calling 426-1110. A limited number of $50 premier-seat tickets (including a post-performance reception with the artist and autographed copy of “The Children of Willesden Lane”) are available by contacting the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights at 345-0304.

Golabek’s mother, Lisa Jura, grew up in the Jewish working-class section of Vienna, where her father was a tailor. Jura showed remarkable musical talent as a young child, and as Hitler and his army became an ever more ominous threat, her parents secured passage for her out of Austria as part of the famed Kindertransport, a series of rescue efforts that carried Jewish children to safety in Great Britain between 1938 and 1940.

Golabek’s performance will detail Jura’s survival, and Golabek’s own life as an internationally acclaimed musician, and host of the syndicated classical musical show “The Romantic Hours.”

• On a related note: Yom Ha’Shoah: Idaho Day of Holocaust Remembrance takes place from noon to 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 21 at the Idaho State Capitol Building in the Lincoln Auditorium.

OATHS hosts its 5th annual fundraiser

OATHS (Organization Assisting the Homeless Student) hosts its fundraiser all day, Sunday, April 26 at bothWestside Drive In locations, 1939 State St. and 1113 E. ParkCenter Blvd. in Boise.

More than 150 student volunteers from Bishop Kelly High School and St. Joe’s Elementary School will be at the Westside, handing out OATHS brochures, collecting donations, and answering questions about OATHS. The Westside’s Chef Lou donates a portion of his sales for the day, and Westside employees donate their tips. OATHS and Westside have also invited local homeless students to be their guests for lunch at the drive-in on Sunday.

Former Bishop Kelly student Ben Skinner founded OATHS in 2010. The organization provides items like computers, musical instruments, sports equipment and more for homeless students.

The money raised on Sunday will help homeless students attend summer camps, including academic, athletic, art, music, dance, cheerleading, and the YMCA camp at Horse Thief Reservoir. This year OATHS has a new initiative, “Project TEAM” (Tutoring, Electronics, Activities, Mentoring). The goal is to provide electronic devices for as many homeless students as possible so they can take online courses, do their homework, and apply for jobs. OATHS also provides tutoring three days a week after school at local shelters City Light and Interfaith Sanctuary.

OATHS has raised over $150,000 for homeless students over the past five years.

City of Boise seeks ReLeaf Boise volunteers

Help strengthen Boise’s famous canopy of trees by being part of Boise Parks and Recreation’s ReLeaf tree planting project, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 25.

ReLeaf Boise is the city’s annual volunteer tree-planting program held in conjunction with American Forest’s Global ReLeaf campaign. The goal is to provide trees to shade city streets, clean the air and ease global warming. Businesses, organizations and corporate groups are encouraged to volunteer.

Volunteers must attend a tree-planting workshop from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 23. During the workshop, volunteers will learn the latest tree planting tips and techniques. They will also receive information on where to meet on planting day.

To sign up, please visit the volunteers website or call Jerry Pugh, community programs coordinator, 608-7617.

Women’s and Children’s Alliance Wish List

The WCA Wish List currently includes: non-perishable/non-expired food items, boxes of tissue, compact flourescent bulbs (60 watts), mattress covered (twin-sized, vinyl-zippered only), wipes, Diaper Genie bag refills, bibs, twin bedding sets for boys and girls, hooded towels.

If you’d like to donate, bring items to the WCA lobby at 720 W. Washington St. in Boise’s North End, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Meet novelist Pete Fromm

Join fellow book lovers on the lawn at The Cabin, 801 S. Capitol Blvd. in Boise, for a springtime reading by novelist Pete Fromm. The reading is at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23. This event is free and open to the public. Books by Fromm will be available for purchase courtesy of Rediscovered Bookshop.

Fromm is a five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award for his novels. They include “If Not For This,” “As Cool as I Am,” and others. The film, “As Cool as I Am,” based on his novel, was released in 2013 starring Clare Danes. Fromm is on the faculty of Oregon’s Pacific University’s Low-Residency MFA Program, and lives in Montana with his family.