Helping Works

Auction honors Robert Manwill, 2009 Idaho abuse victim

New Plymouth, where Robert Manwill lived with his father for most of the year, has never forgotten him. In addition to the annual auction to support his scholarship fund, New Plymouth Elementary installed a special swing several years ago on the school grounds. A photograph of Robert adorns the arch.
New Plymouth, where Robert Manwill lived with his father for most of the year, has never forgotten him. In addition to the annual auction to support his scholarship fund, New Plymouth Elementary installed a special swing several years ago on the school grounds. A photograph of Robert adorns the arch. Idaho Statesman file

The child abuse death of 9-year-old Robert Manwill in Boise in the summer of 2009 caused soul searching, the questioning of support systems for vulnerable people across Idaho, as well as private and public commitments to the welfare of children. Residents of New Plymouth, the community where Robert spent most of the year, decided to create something long-lasting and positive in response to the murder for which Robert’s mother and her boyfriend were convicted.

The seventh annual Robert Manwill Artists for Kids Event, a raffle and silent auction, will take place on Friday, April 29, at the Payette County Fairgrounds in New Plymouth. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Bidding begins at 6:30 p.m.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Robert Manwill Scholarship Fund managed by Four Rivers Healthy Community. In 2019, the year Robert would have graduated from high school, the money will provide scholarships for his classmates at New Plymouth High School. So far, the annual fundraiser has raised over $26,000.

Items up for auction this year include paintings, jewelry, sculptures, antiques, a carousel horse made by Boise artist Lynette Lane (which will be raffled) and special metal pieces made by local students working with metal artists Pattie Young and Travis Emmen.

Organizer Katy Belanger, an art teacher at Middleton High School, said this year is the first time the event has taken place at the fairgrounds. It outgrew the VFW Hall in New Plymouth where it had taken place. Still, she worries that as time goes by, people will forget the story of Robert Manwill and their resolutions to look out for kids in trouble. She and others are determined that will not happen. In addition to blue ribbons placed around town to mark child abuse prevention month in April, businesses in New Plymouth post “Remember Robert” on their marquees.

“Robert would have been a high school freshman this year. We made a commitment to keep this event going and we’re hoping his classmates will continue the legacy,” said Belanger.

The Friday event is free, including food and other festivities.

“We just want people to come, whether they’re buying art or not,” said Belanger.

A second event, Robert’s Run 2016, takes place on Saturday, April 30, at the track next to Robert’s old school, New Plymouth Elementary. Participants will come together to run, walk or jog one mile around the track in his memory.

Participants (students, parents, community members) will run at the designated time of their choice, with the first laps beginning at 10 a.m. Online registration at Eventbrite is $15. Proceeds will support scholarships for New Plymouth High School seniors graduating in 2016.

Belanger welcomes donations of art for the auction, gift baskets and other items. Contact her at katybelanger@gmail.com or call 208-739-6464 if you’d like to help.

Celebrate Boise’s Moon Tree for Arbor Day

Lowell School in Boise’s North End is home to one of the few remaining “Moon Trees” in Idaho — trees planted from seeds that orbited the moon on Apollo 14 in 1971. Families at Lowell, along with friends and other community members, have been on a mission of their own to save the 45-year-old tree. It has suffered from compacted soil, dehydration and other issues over the years.

The Lowell community will celebrate the tree, efforts to heal it and the unveiling of a new Moon Tree plaque based on students’ drawings. The festivities will coincide with Arbor Day, beginning at 10:30 a.m., Friday, April 29, at the school, 1507 N. 28th St. in Boise.

Read the Idaho Statesman’s article about the tree and efforts to save it at IdahoStatesman.com.

Nonprofit organization helps older job seekers re-enter workforce

Experience Works, a local nonprofit organization, has openings for applicants who need help getting back into the workforce. The U.S. Department of Labor-funded program operates in 41 Idaho counties. It’s for people 55 and older who are unemployed and have incomes of $14,850 per year or less for a family of one, or $20,025 for a family of two. (Call for additional guidelines for more family members.)

The goal of the program is to bridge skill gaps and help people build confidence for a successful job search. Those enrolled spend an average of 18 hours each week in paid community service assignments at public and nonprofit organizations and are paid $9 an hour. Work assignments include performing clerical duties at nonprofits, sorting donations at food banks, preparing meals and recreation at senior centers, or assisting in classrooms and libraries. The program also offers help with resumes, improving interview skills and finding job opportunities.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Experience Works at 208-429-8077 or visit experienceworks.org.

Ladies, tea and ‘bubbly’ for a cause

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society host Afternoon Tea & Bubbly, what they’re calling a “swank afternoon ladies affair” with a full-service tea and champagne. Fancy hats and fascinators are encouraged. It takes place at noon on Saturday, May 14, at Chateau des Fleurs, 176 S. Rosebud Lane in Eagle. $75, all ticket proceeds benefit the society. Tickets available online at afternoonteaandbubbly.com.

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