Miller Tavern set to welcome Concerned Kids for electronic auction
The Concerned Kids charity is in a celebratory mood.
After a hard-working year and a half, the midtown-based organization is hosting its inaugural “Chair”-ish the Kids Mix and Mingle Fundraiser at the Miller Tavern in Hoggs Hollow on Sept. 17.
It’s a big moment for executive director and North Toronto resident Tinda Holland, who took the helm in February 2014, as the only employee, and breathed new life into the social awareness program. The Concerned Kids initiatives uses puppetry to teach students about hot-button issues like mental health, bullying, substance abuse and peer pressure.
In 2010, co-founder and Concerned Kids lead, North Toronto’s Joyce Attis died, leaving the charity with some big operational obstacles to overcome.
The goal for the fundraiser is to raise between $25,000 to $30,000, and it helps an initiative that is close to Holland’s heart.
“I said that I really want to do this because I have a 42-year-old son who has mental health issues and substance abuse issues, and I really wanted to be a part of trying to bring more awareness to young kids,” she said, seated on the patio of the Miller Tavern in late August.
The fundraiser features electronic bidding for auction items like a Mexico vacation with Air Canada, valued at $4,200 as well as a $2,800 Via Rail train trip for four to Quebec City, and a Broadway trip to New York City.
Also included are four paintings by the late Margaret Spatura, contributed by an anonymous donor.
With the help of a $167,900 Trillium grant, the organization looks to expand its staff.
“I was able to get some sizeable foundation funding, and we’re now in a very good financial position,” Holland said. “One of the mandates after the Trillium fund is over, is we still have to be able to sustain ourselves.”
That way, more puppeteers for the shows that travel the GTA can be hired on, allowing coordinator Douglas Hurst, a former volunteer puppeteer of three years, to work with Holland.
The puppets the troupe uses come from Kids On The Block, a U.S. firm that also writes the scripts The Concerned Kids uses.
It’s those caricatures, including Eddie Franklin and Claire Sanchez, that make the subject matter more accessible for the kids, and offer interactive opportunities.
“People are always so afraid, if I talk about this then I am going to become a victim or ostracized and that exacerbates the situation even more,” Holland said.