Pet portrait project draws in $2,400 for GSHS, ESSA

Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Good Shepherd Humane Society community engagement coordinator Scott Moore, left, presents a check for the pet portrait fundraiser to Eureka Springs School of the Arts events coordinator Hilka Irvin and executive director Kelly McDonough.
Samantha Jones / Carroll County News

By Samantha Jones

It’s tough for a nonprofit to raise money during a pandemic, so Good Shepherd Humane Society and Eureka Springs School of the Arts had to get creative.

The organizations recently raised more than $2,400 through a virtual pet portrait fundraiser. Scott Moore, community engagement coordinator for Good Shepherd, said he got the idea for the fundraiser from a humane society in Wisconsin. The employees at the humane society drew people’s animals, Moore said, and had an overwhelming response.

Moore said he decided to work with ESSA so both organizations could receive support during an uncertain time. Both GSHS and ESSA had planned fundraisers that were canceled because of the pandemic, Moore said.

“Once those got canceled, we figured let’s put it all into this one and see what we can do,” Moore said. “It was very successful.”

In addition to donating to the fundraiser, Moore said, some people donated straight to GSHS and ESSA through their websites. Kelly McDonough, executive director of ESSA, said she’s grateful to everyone who donated to the fundraiser and especially to the artists who donated their time to depict all kinds of pets.

“There were artists that participated throughout the country,” McDonough said.

McDonough said a jeweler based out of Maine created a metal depiction of someone’s German Shepherd.

“It was just incredible to see what people decided to do,” McDonough said.

The fundraiser was completely digital, McDonough said, making it the perfect event during a pandemic.

“That made it very easy for everybody. The donor would submit a picture of their pet and the artist would submit a picture of the portrait,” McDonough said. “Of course, when you see a beautiful portrait of your fur baby — a lot of people want that.”

Moore said the fundraiser ran for two days, April 8 and 9.

“We had to make it a finite thing because otherwise we’d still have submissions,” Moore said. “Eureka is such an artistic town. We have so many talented people here.”

All kinds of artists were welcomed to participate, including kids. Moore said he was impressed with all the portraits, saying the type of portrait was left up to the artist.

“We had some pottery, sculptures and wire art. The artists really come to the forefront here,” Moore said. “Our results were just over-the-top good.”

This isn’t the first time nonprofits have worked together in Eureka Springs, McDonough said, and it certainly won’t be the last. McDonough said it’s important for nonprofits to work together so they can all be successful.

“A lot of us are drawing on very similar donor pools, particularly when it comes to the local and regional donor pools,” McDonough said. “There’s a lot of people who support both organizations. By joining our missions together, it makes people feel that much better to support a fundraising effort.”

The nonprofits are relatively small organizations, McDonough said, so every donation counts.

“We can find ways to work cooperatively like this and really leverage the resources we have,” McDonough said. “It makes all the sense in the world to work together on that.”

Hilka Irvin, ESSA events coordinator, said the fundraiser lifted her spirit.

“That’s one of the lovely things that has come out of this crazy time in the world,” Irvin said. “I have seen nonprofits and artists and all these organizations banding together in a way that I have never seen before, and I hope that continues. I am hoping to see a lot more of that.”

Moore said he’s already planning to do the fundraiser again.

“I’ve got a list of things we’re going to do differently next year,” Moore said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to have an in-person meeting with volunteers just to explain exactly how it works. I wish we could have kept it open longer, but as it is, we had to call for additional volunteers two or three times because it was so much.”

He continued, “We feel so much love and kindness and support. We’re definitely going to do it again next year. Hopefully, we’ll get it more streamlined so we can leave it open longer.”

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