The Loft is a classic, single screen, movie theater. A throw back to the large, one house, with balcony, theaters of the 70's. They specialize in Sundance films and other independent films that may not make it to the 20-plex mega theaters.
The lobby has a lot of charm, with old movie posters, an old fashioned pop corn popper and ticket taker booth.
Here's why we were there this beautiful Saturday morning, the sky a crisp blue, filled with what I've come to believe are 'Kimmy clouds'...whispy, delicate and you can always almost see the shape of something wonderful in each and everyone...
This fine dressed young man - Tonio. When he came out of his bedroom, dressed to kill, I did a double take.
"Who the hell are you?" I roared. "And what have you done with my son?"
Tonio belly laughed. "Daaaahhhhaaadd!"
Tonio, a part of the Junior Optimist Club "Through Our Eyes" project, worked hard all year for this moment. The leader of this group, Ashley Curtis, is incredible with the children in this group (Autumn was in the club with her last year). She inspires them and brings out their creativity. She always has a vision and works to bring the children an understanding of what she is trying to bring to life. She teaches them about community. Caring, being involved and being sensitive to other people's needs and beliefs...hmmmm, right up Kim's alley! So it is no surprise that Antonio and Autumn have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Ashley's projects.
This year, was no different than any other. Ashley approached the group, with a vision in mind...but something happened. Here is a copy of an email forward I got from Cottonwood's principal, Bobbi Mayeux:
I just had to take one more moment of your time to share with you some background information of the "Through Our Eyes" Project....
I was going to share this at the staff meeting (but forgot there wouldn't be one today)
At the beginning of the year, I had a brilliant idea of what these 10 kids could do to save the world. i was going to convince them that my ideas would be the project that we'd embark on.
THEN, a very soft spoken Antonio Conca said this, "My mom loved dogs so I want to help dogs."
And it didn't stop there. He got the entire group pumped up about helping dogs, everyone insisted that this year we will save the dogs.
So I am sitting there trying to think of some Earth shattering project we can do to SAVE the dogs.
And again, Antonio says "Well, what would the dogs say..."
And those few words became our project, reminding the community that everything and everyone has a voice.
They took the pictures, they interviewed the owners, they decided the message, they uploaded, downloaded, chose their best pictures, edited, cropped, decided on the music, wrote, rewrote, recorded, framed, researched, stayed late, came on Saturdays...
This event is completely their work. I just get to show up, watch amazing kiddos work, drive the van on Saturdays and put a camera in their hands.
I say this because every year I start this group with, what I think is the best way these kids can make a difference and every year they have another plan (and I LOVE it) It amazes me what happens when I just step back and let these young people lead the way.
This event isn't Ashley's after school club. This is Antonio's doing, this is their doing... and I just had to take a moment to share that with you all!
We really hope to see you there on Saturday (stay for 5 minutes or 1 hour)
***Thanks for letting me share***
I'm not going to lie to you, tears were streaming down my face as I read this...ala Kim...Once again, Tonio taking me by surprise. First, with his performance at the carnival, now this. To say he understates his role, would be an understatement.
After reading this, I was even more excited to see what Ashley had in store for us...And to see what Tonio had created!
Monsi and Tonio waiting for the event to begin!
Tonio's best friend, Monsi, is in the club too. She is incredibly creative and brings out the best in Tonio. These two together are so enjoyable. They looked so sharp all dressed up today and were both super excited, and a little nervous...
Monsi and Tonio show Lupe their photography work before the show.
Ashley had all her kids dialed in - they knew what to do to make it a smooth showing. Monsi and Tonio greeting guests and handed out programs.
Ashley handed out flowers for the each presenter to give to the owner's of the dogs they reported on.
Monsi and Toni, sat next to each other in the front row...
Ashley asked the kids to choose their favorite part of their body and create a short about it...Here's Tonio's
And here, Tonio presents to Halo's story.
Sorry, a bit of technical difficulties...we are on the road, and, apparently, the hotel wifi is not powerful enough to upload Tonio's video...I will insert it by this time tomorrow - so please tune in next time, for Tonio's dog story!!
Proud of Tonio? Understatement. I was so entertained...his creativity (from Kim!) and empathy amaze me.
Ami, Mary and Brinley came along today to support the kids! Tonio was so honored, taking time out of their Saturday morning, to be there. On the way home, we talked about the project, the presentation, etc...but, what touched him was Ami, Mary and Brinley being there. "That was so nice of them Dad!" He exclaimed.
And Cottonwood's principal, Bobbi Mayeux, was there, too!
A full range of emotions ran through me - mostly just elation for Tonio, on his big day. As I said, I am just so proud of him. And so blessed. This boy teaches me so much, something new each day, about how to be a better person....hmmmm, once again, Kim. And yes, I know Kim was there, but I wanted, so badly, to be sitting next to her, holding her hand, and enjoying the moment together...handing her tissues to wipe away her tears of joy...
My flash musn't have gone off! Here, the kids take a bow! The message behind them on the big screen very prophetic....they all displayed such talent today. And their energy and creativity were infectious.
Afterward, Brinley walked up to Autumn and took her hand...she's such a sweety. Autumn led Brinley out of the theater and into the sunshine...