Step Up on Second in Santa Monica is celebrating 20 years of providing assistance to individuals suffering from mental illness with a charity art show and fundraising event. Art Heals, a show that features a group display of artwork created by Step Up on Second members, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, September 30th, at the Lowe Gallery, 2034 Broadway, Santa Monica.

Tickets to the event are $100, which includes catering and an open bar.

About 30 pieces of art will be on display, created by Step Up on Second clients through the “Art Heals” program at the Second Street facility.

After the fundraising event, the exhibit will be moved to the Community Focus Gallery inside Santa Monica Place where it will remain on display through the end of October.

A champagne reception for honored guests and event sponsors will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the catered event with dessert will begin at 7:15 p.m. Several of the participating artists plan to attend the event, and there will also be a wine bar and live jazz at the event.

At the reception, Step Up on Second plans to honor its founder Susan Dempsey.

Step Up on Second is a nonprofit corporation that assists individuals who have severe and persistent mental illness reintegrate into the community. The agency provides long-term support to people in recovery and their families, offering educational, social and work programs, quality housing, shower and laundry facilities and daily meals.

“This past year we worked with over 1,200 individuals at the agency and prepared nearly 40,000 meals for members,” says Tod Lipka, CEO of Step Up on Second.

“We have housing for only 34, so most of our members live off site or are homeless. Unfortunately, with recent state cut backs for mentally ill treatment facilities, our programs and all of our services are in even greater demand.”

The group plans to up its number of those receiving live-in care to 100 over the next two years.

The illnesses that Step Up on Second most often work with are schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression.

The group’s services are provided free of charge to the select group of individuals it is able to provide assistance to.

Step Up on Second has found that one of the most therapeutic activities it can offer to its members is art, hence the success of the Art Heals program within the organization.

The program has been led for the past three years by Gigi Miller, a graduate student at Pepperdine University.

Step Up on Second also runs Daniel’s Place, 2701 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica. Daniel’s Place (named after the late Daniel Greenberg, who was an outreach worker at Step Up on Second) is a center for young adults experiencing their first episodes of mental illness and a support center for their families.

The goal of Daniel’s Place is to promote early intervention to reduce the likelihood of a person’s mental illness becoming a disabling condition.

Information, (310) 394-6889.

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