Art & Soul IX featured 21 works of art by Unleashing Potential youth.

Each fall in St. Louis, more than 200 business and community leaders gather for Art & Soul, an opportunity to celebrate the role of art in helping children and to raise funds for UCC-related Unleashing Potential. Now in its ninth year, Art & Soul was held Nov. 1 at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.

Monies raised help support the CHHSM member’s four core programs: early childhood education, before/after school programs, youth development, and enrichment camps.

In addition to the normal fund raiser fare of cocktails, dinner, and a grand prize drawing, Art & Soul IX featured an art auction. The auction included works from local artists, including 21 children who have benefited from Unleashing Potential programs. All 21 works sold during the evening.

Expressing appreciation for the donors, Darlene Sowell, Unleashing Potential’s president and CEO, noted that “the guests invested in the lives of children who deserve every opportunity to thrive and succeed in life.”

Joycelyn Pugh-Walker, Ed.D. receives the Jerry Paul Award from Darlene Sowell, Unleashing Potential’s president and CEO.

One of the evening’s highlights was the awarding of the annual Jerry Paul Advocacy Award. This year’s recipient was Joycelyn Pugh-Walker, Ed.D., director of federal programs in the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Pugh-Walker has worked in the education field for more than 20 years as an advocate, educator, and mentor. Currently, she writes and manages federal grants to improve achievement, governance, and leadership performance in the school district.

The advocacy award was created in 2015 to honor the life and children’s advocacy legacy of the Rev. Jerry Paul, a former board member of Neighborhood Houses — now Unleashing Potential — and the founding CEO of the Deaconess Foundation in St. Louis.

Each year, Unleashing Potential’s core programs help more than 1,400 children and youth. Additionally, more than 150 educational field trips and family events stretch Unleashing Potential’s impact even further.

The support of Art & Soul patrons “helps Unleashing Potential continue to fulfill our mission of closing the opportunity gap for children and youth by building on their strengths,” Sowell added. “We are grateful they have chosen to support Unleashing Potential.”