Central Arkansas may have Oaklawn, but the Kentucky Derby is a horse of a different color. And if you ask the Methodist Family Health Foundation, derby day is reason enough to celebrate. 

That’s where the annual Southern Silks event comes in. A “post-race soirée” awaits attendees with food, drinks, a hat contest, faux horse races and a live auction. Proceeds go to support the programs of Methodist Family Health, a nonprofit that provides psychiatric and behavioral healthcare to children and families in Arkansas, serving more than 2,400 children every day program-wide.

We got the chance to talk with Kathleen Kennally, a crucial part of the team that makes Southern Silks happen. Here’s what she had to say.

 

Tell us about your involvement with Methodist Family Health.

Kathleen Kennally: I have been a volunteer committee member participating in the fundraising events for Methodist Family Health and previously Kaleidoscope Kids (which is now part of MFH) for more than 10 years. In addition, I have worked with children in the Kaleidoscope Grief Program to create art projects.

What is your role in Southern Silks?

KK: As a member of the Southern Silks planning committee, I help wherever I can, but my main job is recruiting local artists to create wonderful, colorful “Derby Hat” centerpieces that are used for table decorations. I also make some myself. Each one is beautiful and unique and reflects the artist’s creative interpretation of the fun and excitement of spring and Derby Day.

I am a behind-the-scenes worker bee who is willing to help out in many areas, from soliciting race prizes and live auction items to setting up and making the space look festive and inviting. Then on the big night I get to have fun with my friends, cheering on favorite horses and jockeys, and knowing all the proceeds benefit the children and youth who are helped so tremendously by Methodist Family Health.

Why is it important to give to an event like Southern Silks?

KK: The funds raised from this event benefit the more than 2,400 children and families served each day by Methodist Family Health. MFH offers psychiatric, behavioral and emotional healthcare through residential, inpatient and outpatient programs and the services of day treatment schools, residential treatment centers, counseling clinics and a psychiatric hospital for children and adolescents. There are also specialized programs that help women battling addictions and children struggling with grief and the loss of a loved one. You can learn more about MFH at their website.

What is it about Methodist Family Health that makes you want to be a part of it?

KK: I originally became involved with the grief program and later learned about the many other services provided to Arkansans. Seeing the sadness and despair in the eyes of children who have lost someone they loved, or someone suffering from addiction, replaced with hope for the future is a gift beyond words. At the expense of sounding  trite, I know I am a very fortunate person and truly believe I have a responsibility to give back, and especially to give back in my own community. I know for sure that I receive much more than I give.

Southern Silks takes place from 6-10 p.m. this Saturday, May 2. Click here for tickets.