The Performing Stars of Marin celebrated its 25th Anniversary Saturday, Sept. 26, at the Mill Valley Community Center.
The anniversary recognized the group’s CEO and Director Felecia Gaston for her mentorship of more than 1,200 children who participated in the Performing Stars program and for her contribution to the Marin City arts community.
The children who participated in Performing Stars have gained many life skills that has helped them, regardless of whether they stayed in the arts.
Raina Baker, 34, now works with children as a teacher’s assistant at Bayside Elementary School and as an aid at the Manzanita Center. “Performing Stars is positive – it motivates youth to use their talents and gain confidence,” she said.
Many supporters and friends of Gaston and the Performing Stars attended the sold out anniversary event. Patty Garbarino, event chair, spoke introduced Cheryl Jennings, anchor for ABC7 News, who was the Mistress of Ceremonies.
Narada Michael Walden, Andre Thierry, Joe Lewis Walker and other Bay Area performers attended the anniversary. Huey Lewis and the News, the Doobie Brothers and Carlos Santana donated gifts for a silent auction.
President Obama celebrated the work of Gaston and the Performing Stars with a letter, which said, “Change often comes when caring and engaged individuals join together to build a brighter, stronger future for themselves and for the generations to come. For years, you have carried forward a proud tradition. By daring to imagine the world as it could be and working tirelessly to realize that vision, you are helping America reach a better tomorrow.”
Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, 2nd District also congratulated Gaston.
In 2009, Performing Stars launched Phoenix Project, which mentors at-risk young males and adults through its Community Connection Center in Marin City, helping them find jobs and keep out of the juvenile court system.
In the last two years, Performing Stars also sponsored “Enlighten – Young Women Exploring their Futures,” an event during the Women History Month in Marin City.
At each event, 80 teenage girls living in and around Marin City are connected with professional women who help them explore what they may want to do in the future.
In her acceptance speech, Gaston explained how she, a disappointed little girl growing up in Georgia, watched other little girls going off to ballet classes while she could not join them because of segregation.
Now, Gaston is proud to have helped launch numerous careers and helped many reach professions and other significant personal achievements.
“Performing Stars,” she said, “encouraged each child to develop self-reliance with the ultimate goal of helping them become the leaders that will help the next generation succeed.”