ROCHELLE — It’s why we live in this small town versus anywhere else — when we see something missing, we can do something about it.
Danny and Stephanie Williams are filling a void in the “Hub City” that possibly the rest of us didn’t know existed. And we’ll all be grateful they’ve stepped up.
Danny and Stephanie are photographers and own Lifeworks Photography Studio in Rochelle. They’ve embraced the community and wanted to ensure that the arts are elevated, not just for their family, but for the entire community.
In Aug. 2018, the couple started the Daniel and Stephanie Williams Fund for the Arts with their own seed money. The purpose was to fund arts and artists within the Rochelle community. Because of their vision, we’ll see large works of art in public spaces for young and old to enjoy.
Wednesday evening, they hosted their third art show fundraiser where they auctioned off various photos Danny has taken, and it had a special theme.
Danny explained that Skare Park [pronounced SKAR-E] has been special to him as a photographer, but also to his family with Stephanie, which includes their two children, Grace and Rory. They regularly spend time with family and friends at the park located west of Rochelle. The park, which was created with land donated by Norman Lincoln Skare and is part of the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District, boasts picnic areas, a competitive disk golf course, open space and woods, a meandering creek and hiking. It is truly a gem and they wanted to highlight its natural diversity and beauty.
Wednesday evening, several area residents filled the Rick House of Kennay Farms Distillery for the art auction that raised roughly $3,500 with the auction of the photographs as well as a silent auction. That puts the fund at $26,000 and within range of their initial goal of $40,000 by 2025 or, hopefully, sooner.
“Stephanie and I are humbled by the massive amount of support we get for this event each year,” Danny said. “We’re excited to help provide opportunities for local artists to display impactful pieces of artwork in our community and to foster an artistic culture in our area.”
They haven’t done it alone, though, the Rochelle Area Community Foundation was instrumental in helping them launch and sustain the arts fund. And, of course, many others stepped up to help them realize their goal.
“We’d also like to thank our friends and family and the community for helping make this event possible each year. Businesses and individuals have been so gracious to volunteer their time, donate gifts and baskets for the silent auctions and have provided encouragement to us,” Danny added. “We truly couldn’t host this event without them.”
Stephanie echoed Danny’s thanks for the people and businesses that made the event happen.
“I‘d like to give special thanks to Kennay Farms Distilling for the beautiful venue, Matt Hart our auctioneer for the evening, the talented Buzzed By Sonset live band performance and Kara Kettleson for her design artwork for all our flyers and logos,” Stephanie said. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many amazing, philanthropic individuals in our community.”
If you’re interested in helping the Williams family elevate the arts in Rochelle, you can go to their website — rochellefoundation.org/daniel-and-stephanie-williams-fund-for-arts.com.