‘Everything is Beautiful’ is the theme of this year’s Teens With a Purpose fundraiser gala


PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Teenagers. In the News. And, it’s good! Some local teens are planning to show off their artistic, performance, and organizational skills this week as they converge on the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Teen With a Purpose, a Norfolk-based performing arts and mentoring group, is holding its annual Gala “Move Maker Award & Adam Haylock Scholarship Program” Thursday evening. The theme of the program is “Everything Is Beautiful.” And, how timely.

T.W.P. founder and director, Deirdre Love, says it’s hard to see all the beauty her artistic teenagers create at their Norfolk studio, when other teens acting badly dominates the news: A 15-year-old shoots and wounds two students at Heritage High School in Newport News; social media video of teens fighting, in school, a mall, or at theme parks like Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.

So, why are some teenagers so angry? Love questions if we are listening. “I feel like they are telling us something,” she said.

Love listens.

“I have young people who have said to me ‘I have put down my gun. I’m trying what you teach over there, using my art, trying to walk away.’ It’s not easy,” said Love.

Teens in her charge speak out through their art. Love founded the arts and mentoring group Teens With a Purpose about 25 years ago. She encourages kids to express themselves. And they’ve responded by creating an in-person and virtual get-out-to-vote campaign; building a garden to provide fresh food to residents; hosting a poetry and performance program for students, area-wide, “to learn about local African American history while discovering the lively art of performance poetry!”

Some teens need a job. And Love says T.W.P. has hired them. Others just need someone to listen, or engage. T.W.P. does that, too.

Dozens of teens meet daily at the East Olney Road studio, after school. T.W.P. vans pick up some from school and take them home a few hours later.  

“We’re just a tiny organization. And it really takes a whole community,” said Love.

One of T.W.P.’s biggest supporters used to fly in from New York at least once a year. But an increased work load at NBC network, and recently the COVID-19 pandemic, have forced weather anchor Al Roker to meet with the group, virtually.

“Whether it’s ‘spoken word’ or whether it’s planting a garden, or whether it’s visual arts, it’s very important for them (the teens) to feel that:  ‘A’ they’re supported, ‘B’ that they are listened to, and ‘C’ that they have an outlet for that creativity,” said Roker.

Teens With a Purpose has its major fundraiser Thursday, November 4 at Chrysler Museum of Art from 6-7:30 p.m. If you can’t make it in-person, you can be participate, virtually. Love says, if successful, T.W.P. can help more teenagers find their purpose.

The theme of this years gala: “Everything is Beautiful.”

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