Our mission to break the cycle of child abuse takes a village, and working with our generous friends and community partners, Upbring is helping Texas children build brighter futures.

At our Red Ball gala in Austin, we had the privilege of partnering with Austin-based artist Mila Sketch, who created a painting that will inspire and encourage our girls at New Life Children?s Center for years to come.

New Life provides a safe, nurturing home for girls between the ages of 11 and 17 to heal from childhood trauma, often the result of abuse and neglect.

The preteen and teen years can be difficult for any girl facing the pressure to be pretty, smart and popular. Imagine how much more difficult they can be for girls who have survived horrific experiences at the hands of adults who should have loved them.

Upbring Chief External Relations Officer Donna Palmer (left) and Stewardship Volunteer Coordinator Lisa Brown deliver a painting dedicated by Austin artist Mila Sketch to the girls we serve at New Life Children’s Center. Mila hopes the painting will inspire the girls on their path to the bright futures they deserve.

Mila shared that she was delighted when Upbring presented the idea of providing uplifting support for the girls at New Life through art.

“It is very important for female professionals to serve as an example for girls in the community,” Mila said. “I was very impressed by how much passion Amanda Angell and Christie Gaderson of Upbring had to develop a partnership for the gala art project.”

During the event, Mila created her painting live as Red Ball guests contributed handwritten messages of encouragement to the girls in a journal. Mila meticulously incorporated some of the messages into the painting.

As she considered the inspiration behind the piece, Mila shared that it was the connection between the Upbring team, the community and the children that touched her heart.

“It takes compassion, love and understanding of a bigger vision to execute what Upbring does,” Mila said.

Prints of Mila’s painting were available for purchase during and after the event. The original was delivered to its permanent home at New Life Children’s Center.

“I hope the girls will be reminded of their own strength and beauty every day they look at the painting. I also hope it will inspire them to look for their own unique path leading to a bright future,” Mila said.

In addition to the notes of encouragement from event guests, Mila included a Book of Knowledge in the center, on top of two other books. The book symbolizes studying, discovering and believing.

There is also a bracelet in the top-right corner of the book, symbolizing unity and friendship. The charms around the bracelet are the keys that will open any door these courageous girls want to walk through.

Other powerful imagery in Mila’s painting includes:

  • An oak leaf symbolizing life and vitality
  • A medallion with an inspiring message about working hard
  • A cross symbolizing faith
  • A watch representing the time it takes to develop self-discipline
  • A love charm representing unconditional love

Along with Mila’s painting, the journal of encouraging, inspirational messages from event guests were taken to New Life. The messages will remind each girl that she is seen, loved and wanted, and that there are friends cheering for her every step of the way.

“Every young woman has a unique voice and a beautiful message inside,” Mila said. “I wish for all children, at Upbring and around the world, to find it and have the faith to follow it fearlessly.”

Click here to learn more about Mila Sketch and her work.

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