Event raises $10K for shelter for female war vets

08/04/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Early Saturday night in Ybor City, Romeo’s Art Gallery was the place to be in Tampa. Nearly 30 local artists were donating their art to help raise funds for a new shelter being constructed for 16 female Iraq war veterans from the Tampa Bay \area.

The name of the event was “Faces of Athena,” and it was the brainchild of former state legislator Sara Romeo. Romeo said she got the idea from her role as executive director for Tampa Crossroads.

Romeo said she then began researching the issue, and was stunned to learn that there are between 300 to 400 homeless women in the Tampa bay are who’ve served in the Armed forces. So in June she announced that Tampa Crossroads was looking for funding, and any other help to house the 16 veterans.

The community responded, sending in furniture, money and donating time for the building, located at 1301 E. Columbus Ave., scheduled to open in November.

Saturday’s fundraiser also included corporate sponsors. The main partner on Saturday was the alliance with TampaArtists.Com. Local artist Jason Fondren is involved with the group.

Fondren and nearly everyone else interviewed by WMNF was thrilled with the attendance at Romeo’s Art Gallery. Although the gallery was officially opened at 6 p.m., Romeo said people had been filing in throughout the day. At about 6:30 PM on Saturday there appeared to be at least 50 people admiring the art and socializing.

Tampa Artists.Com is an organization whose website allows Tampa artists to post their pictures, biographies and their artwork free of charge. It also features a blog about local events.

Rich Frederick is executive director with Tampa Artists.Com. He helped create the organization in 2004, a time he says, where there was a stigma about local artists.

Artist Grace Henderson is optimistic that the art scene in Tampa will continue to get bigger and better.

Romeo told WMNF today that more than $10,000 in art was sold on Saturday night.

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