For more than 30 years, three sisters observed their brother, a master woodworker, introduce the wonder of art to their younger brother.
Though he had brain damage, Billy Verwiel enjoyed the simple, but meaningful, woodworking projects.
That experience fostered an idea that led to creation of Art ’n Kids, a nonprofit group now raising money to support the arts at the Riverside School of the Arts. The city-run program at the Cesar E. Chavez Community Center teaches dance, music and art to about 1,500 children.
Art ’n Kids, founded by sisters Kathleen Hamilton, who lives in Temecula; and Riverside residents Dolores Mumper and Elizabeth Stralka; are joined in their efforts by longtime city resident and environmental leader Jane Block.
Their nonprofit’s mission is to ensure that all children in Riverside have access to the arts.
Impressed with the professionalism and the diversity of programs available at the arts school, Art ’n Kids leaders set a goal of raising $150,000 for them, Stralka said.
“We would like to see that they have the availability to purchase more musical instruments, art supplies and provide more classrooms and programs for more children,” she said.
Anyone giving $5,000 or more will receive an original piece of woodworking art crafted by the three sisters’ brother, John Verwiel.
Verwiel’s acclaimed work has never been publicly sold. It includes various woodworking styles and types of wood. His rocking chairs, mantles, clocks, benches, kitchen islands and church altars have all been donated for decades throughout the region.
Thirty-eight pieces made by Verwiel have been set aside as gifts for Art ’n Kids donors. Some are on display now at The Parrott gift shop, 3598 Main St., Riverside.
The generosity and kindness shown by the sisters is a great example of seizing our destiny’s unified city pillar. The sisters demonstrate that we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
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