Look no further than Upper West Restaurant at 3321 Pico Blvd. where the community is invited to celebrate with HARK (Healing Arts Reaching Kids).
On Cinco de Mayo (May 5) from 5 pm to 10 pm, Upper West will donate 30 percent of proceeds to HARK.
Revelers will be able to indulge in Upper West’s individualist food and drinks while getting caught up in the surprise piñata raffles all to support HARK.
HARK helps normalize the hospital environment for patients and their families through hands-on art workshop experiences as well as providing philanthropic support for the hospital’s Expressive Arts Therapies services.
“It has been shown that patients have a 20 percent mood improvement with art therapy and 20 percent pain improvement with music therapy,” said Laurie Hutton, HARK president. “At our HARK workshops we bring both music and art to the kids. I was told by a patient that it was very relaxing; in fact, all of us, volunteers and the kids, lose track of time while painting and listening to music.”
Hutton said HARK helped “children be children” and have fun in a hospital environment.
“Parents are so relieved to have a little time to breathe and enjoy down time with both their patient child and their other kids; they can just be a family for a while,” she said.
HARK founder Karen Sweeney said it was about 10 years ago when she saw a need to help hospitalized children feel more at ease.
“The first day I volunteered at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles I was on the kidney dialysis floor,” Sweeney said. “The kids were in bed hooked up to a machine which was very scary for them; they needed something to bring normalcy and all I had at the time were crayons and paper. Since then HARK has grown a lot through all our volunteers and their fundraising efforts. It allows us to have much more generous and varied art supplies and create group workshops with art and music but it’s still all about the kids. They are little heroes.”
Upper West is a “creative, classy” Santa Monica eatery serving internationally inspired dishes like Ahi tuna tacos and Chimichurri sweet potato fries and offering a full bar in a comfortable but urban setting.