Lauren McBride, who is known as Miss Lala to many youngsters throughout the community, is trying to get the word out about her nonprofit, ARTS with Heart, that benefits special needs and underprivileged people.
“We want this nonprofit to be able to make (Cobb) a better place and make it more open for people of all ages to be able to come … if we could get somebody, or any company, to pledge a certain amount per month to go towards the program, like a scholarship for kids at area schools to do after-school programs or special needs,” she said.
McBride started the nonprofit in 2006 but she is in “reboot” mode to get it up and running again so that anyone who wants to participate or make donations can also get a tax exemption.
“It’s been a dream this whole time but now everything is ready to click ‘send’ online,” she said. “If we can get the first $1,000 to help pay for the filing fees, that will re-enact the nonprofit company for the 501(c) 3.”
Children with special needs hold a special place in McBride’s heart and this nonprofit will allow her to help them out in some way while still being a fiscally responsible business owner still.
“I have a real heart in using the arts to help them have a better life and know more skills,” she said.
She’s also looking to incorporate the family aspect of special needs learning by bringing in counselors or occupational therapists into the mix as well but McBride said she couldn’t financially pay for people with those talents so she’s in need of volunteers.
McBride said she has extended the purpose of the nonprofit’s mission to help less-fortunate children as well.
“I don’t want money to be an issue for people to receive arts education, especially with them being taken out of the schools,” she said. “I want them to have those experiences whether they can pay for it or not.”
Without the nonprofit formally in place, McBride has bartered with residents or swapped chores so that their children can participate.
“I’ve been doing this for about five years now … I have to make it a financial success as well as a physical and emotional success though,” she said.
Rachel Martin, who has been bringing her children to McBride’s studio since her oldest son Mitchell, who is now 7, was just 12 months old.
Since then, her other three children, Justin who is 5 and 3-year-old twins James and Davis, have all followed in their older brother’s footsteps, participating in the art and music classes and attending the summer camps when they can.
“They almost feel like it’s their home, they know the routines and rules, they are very enthusiastic,” Martin said. “It’s extremely enjoyable but structured.”
Martin said it’s important for the same opportunities her children have experienced to be offered to other children, both those less fortunate and with special needs, because arts are wonderful for the heart and soul.
“There have been so many studies about what arts can do for the mind, intelligence and the behavior … it’s not something that is always a gift that’s given,” she said. “To have a place to go get those opportunities in invaluable and the fact that she’s on the Square is perfect, because it’s the heart of Marietta.”
Another customer of McBride’s that has been taking her three children to the studio for the last five years is Dorothy Parada. The west Cobb resident is mom to Daniel, 8; Chelsea, 6; and Violet, 5.
“I feel like music and art are important for children to have exposure to and be involved in from a young age,” she said.
Parada said McBride has really been trying to get ARTS with Heart off the ground for sometime but because it takes so much time and money, it’s been tough.
“She’s been running her business like a nonprofit,” Parada said. “(McBride) does it really more from the heart than a business. It’s a labor of love to begin with. I feel like she’s so in touch with children and what their needs are and what kind of personalities they have and the techniques to teach them.”
Anyone interested in helping McBride get ARTS with Heart up and running again can give her a call at (770) 425-9660 or visit the studio at 19 Powder Springs St. in Marietta. She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.