The founder of Art Feeds, a Joplin-based program aimed at helping children heal and grow through art, was a finalist for the Do Something Awards, a national service award honoring “the nation’s best young world-changers, 25 and under.”
“I’m so blessed,” said Meg Bourne, Art Feeds founder and executive director.
On Tuesday night, about 100 people gathered at JB’s Piano Bar in downtown Joplin for a watch party. The awards show aired on VH1, a cable television network based in New York City.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER
Katia Gomez, a 24-year-old native of San Leandro, Calif., was the winner of the 2012 Do Something Award. Her program, Educate2Envision, focuses on educating youth in the Honduras.
Bourne said more than 1,000 applicants were narrowed down to 12 semifinalists. Those 12 underwent three days of interviews in June in New York before the five finalists were selected.
“I feel like I got the best of both worlds because we got to film the show (in Los Angeles), and now I get to come back and celebrate with our community,” Bourne said. “Our volunteers, educators and interns are why we were up for this award, so I’m very pleased to share this night with them.”
Each finalist received $10,000, and the winner received a $100,000 award. Part of the $10,000 awarded to Art Feeds will be used for expansion of the children’s programs, Bourne said, and the group wants to expand and have chapters across the country.
The program is in its third year and operates out of a mobile art center. It has worked with thousands of Joplin students to complete art projects. As a nonprofit organization, Art Feeds is funded by donations and grants. The art projects cost roughly $1 per student per lesson.
Kim Adams, whose daughter, Tess, is a second-grader at Irving Elementary School, said the program has positively influenced her daughter. The family was affected by the May 22, 2011, tornado. The family attended the watch party Tuesday night.
“Art Feeds is amazing to me,” Adams said. “It’s amazing that art has always been something that feeds the soul, so to have a traveling art van to feed my kid is amazing to me. It’s everything she talks about. She talks about it all the time. Even just seeing the bus around town inspires us.”
“I really, really love it,” Tess said. “I like to design things.”
During the VH1 special, Bourne talked about how teenager Will Norton, who died in the tornado, had encouraged her to apply for the awards.