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Portland Rose Festival and Regence partner to support autism nonprofit

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 6:52 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Regence BlueCross BlueShield and the Portland Rose Festival Foundation will be coming together to donate $20,000 to North Pole Studios, a non-profit organization that helps those with autism and intellectual developmental disabilities succeed as artists.

Rich Jarvis of the Portland Rose Festival Foundation says the encouragement to educate in the arts and the community was a perfect fit.

“The art and education aspect that show here are shining brightly because we see people developing their skills that have developed wonderful pieces of work. That’s what the rose festival is all about Is being able to grow creative talents and offer platforms for that”, says Jarvis.

North Pole gives artists the opportunity to make projects from painting, drawing, sculpting and even t-shirts. Donations will go to things like hiring staff, materials and hosting workshops, but their main focus is accessibility for artists.

“A huge piece that we support is just facilitating connections Between the artist opportunities like that in in community that are really career changing and often don’t happen without visibility around their work,” says Sula Willson, North Pole Studios Program Director.

Co-founding artist, Davis Wohlford, has already sold his art. It will be displayed inside the packaging of a Moonstruck chocolate bar. Wohlford even has a project in the works with the Oregon Zoo.

“I’m working on donation of mod podge animals to the Oregon Zoo. Ones that are from my mind, ones are that are at the zoo today, ones from the past,” says Wohlford.

Artists say North Pole Studios gives them a feeling of home and a sense of belonging.

“It feels very rewarding, and it also just makes me feel a lot better about myself,” says Max, Artist.

“It’s so good to be surrounded by other artists who are like me; who are different, a good different and just be you and you do you,” says Austin.

There are currently 25 artists in the program, but North Pole Studios hope that with this donation, they can expand later this year.

The check will be presented at the Distinguished Visitors dinner during Fleet Week in June.