Klahre House kids put on a show, speak from the heart

August 20, 2011

An aluminum-can-festooned party dress, natty tuxedo and colorful combinations of scarves, shirts and even a cape, added flair to the Klahre House/Good Karma Fashion Show Thursday at the Gorge Room at Best Western Hood River Inn.

The evening kicked off an ongoing fundraiser by the teens who study at Klahre House, a program of The Next Door Inc. that works with at-risk foster youth who are working to improve themselves and the community.

"Who knew recycling could be so fashionable," said one student, Cece.

Besides showing off fashions donated by Good Karma Thrift Shop, the students were recognized for their contributions on Klahre House Council, gardening, journalism and other efforts, and scholastic and service learning projects including watershed restoration.

One student, Julian, said the event was the kickoff for Vox Juvenis Foundation.

"We set this fundraiser a couple of months ago to support education, field trips, service learning projects; to help us with our education and also to help the community at large," Julian said.

Vox Juventis (Voice of Youth in Latin) is also the name of the Klahre House newspaper. Most of the funding for projects has to come from grants or donations. Because grants are limited this year, the students wanted to take the initiative to raise the money themselves.

Students gave shout-outs to all the staff members and foster families who were in attendance, and to Good Karma's Cherie and Brent Anderson, and Victoria Row.

"We were really glad to be involved," Brent said.

"We just love the kids' energy," Cherie said, after witnessing the runway-style exhibition of clothing from their store.

The students designed styles using materials such as pop cans, paint brushes, garbage bags, shower curtains and window curtains. The students also wanted to promote a positive message of sustainability; so they fashioned all of the outfits out of reused clothing and recyclable materials.

"Recycle and use. It's fun to get active," said one student.

In addition, the students contacted local business owners to work with them to put together a silent auction for the evening.

Teacher Sarah Collington served as emcee, and the students presented her with flowers and best wishes as a mother-to-be.

"This is an awesome and sad day for us," Collington said, noting that Chris has graduated from the program at the highest achievement level possible.

"I've had my struggles, and I've learned to ask for help," Chris said. "Sometimes I tried to avoid asking for help, but (Klahre House) helped me grow strong, and have healthy relationships with my family - and my mom and dad are here."

"It was gratifying to hear the number of times the kids said 'This is a place where I've changed,'" said Heidi Venture, The Next Door Inc.'s development director. "This is what we are trying to accomplish; to help them grow and learn to contribute to their community."

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