Arts center celebrates milestone

August 21, 2009 Call it a 'facelift' or an 'extreme makeover' as about 100 volunteers from local Home Depot stores fan out over the Little Black Pearl workshop on the city's South Side. Home Depot is donating all of the labor and materials to remodel bathrooms, apply fresh coats of paint throughout the building and spruce up the landscaping.

"Part of our core values at Home Depot is to give back to the community, so we go back each year and look at some non-profit organizations and see what we can do to help them with refurbishments," said Tim Wilkerson, Home Depot.

Little Black Pearl teaches art and entrepreneurial skills to children through summer and after-school programs. Friday's event is part of a weekend-long celebration of its 15th year anniversary and the beginning of a new initiative.

"We're going to have a focus on peace this year, because so much happened with our children last year during the school year around violence and this year we want to raise the awareness of our community, our children and their parents around peace," said Monica Haslip, founder, Little Black Pearl workshop.

The weekend will culminate with Pearl Fest on Sunday in Mandrake Park. The goal is to help kick-off a safe school year.

"We're asking parents to sign a pledge along with their children of peace. After they sign that pledge the boys will get a chance to get free hair cuts. We're going to be giving out book bags and school supplies. And then we're going to partner a veteran with parents who need an escort to walk their children to school on the first day," said Haslip.

There will also be a free concert at Pearl Fest featuring Lalah Hathaway, Diane Reeves, Nona Hendryx and Terry Lynn Carrington.

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