April is Autism Awareness Month and the entire community is invited to join the Peace for the Pieces Social Group, as they host Autism Awareness Day on Saturday, April 17. The fun-filled event will take place at the Pleasanton River Park, starting at 11 a.m. and will continue to approximately 3 p.m.
Local businesswoman and advocate Laura Calvert began “Peace for the Pieces” in 2008, organizing autism walks in Texas and Arkansas. She moved back to Pleasanton in 2009, starting her venture with Art on Main Co-Op Creations. The proud mother of two special-needs children, Calvert started Peace for the Pieces in Atascosa County in 2019 after feeling God’s calling tugging at her.
A tree planting dedication in honor of Desiree Anger will lead the April 17 event at the park, close to the basketball courts. They will plant a redbud, as they want the but- terflies to gather, which Desiree loved. An autism walk will follow afterwards. To participate in the walk, you can just show up that day. There will not be a registration.
“After that we will do our chalked out puzzle pieces,” said Calvert. “What we’re doing is filling in a bunch of puzzle pieces and everybody’s going to create their own art. Then we’ll do a prize for the top three.”
The event will also include bounce houses, food, face-painting and more under the pavilion. Calvert is pleased at the wonderful turnout of community support which includes many sponsors.
Sponsors so far include: Plestex Theatre, Beautified Studio, Art on Main Co- Op Creations, Creatively Charming, Cafe Chris, Farm to Familia, B&H Snack Shack, Hair by Regina, The UPS Store, Lillian Cashmer Insurance, Chile Bandera, South Texas Natural Wellness, Dwayne and Cheryl Cantu, Fowl Play BBQ, Team Vasquez, Bostex Construction and Fencing, Pro-Torque Services, Rick Luna Tires, Price Chevrolet, Pleasanton Express, Pleasanton Lions Club, The Shot Glass, Kings Medicine, Pleasant Perk Coffee House, Sunshine House Coffee, In Memory of Manuel Vela and In Memory of Ethan Ray Pacheco.
The group is also currently holding an online auction event with 60 puzzle pieces up for bid. The decorative, colorful, beautiful puzzle pieces were cut out by woodworking students at Pleasanton High School. Then the pieces were painted by art students of Carmen Harris at PHS, as well as other artists including Harris, Calvert and Darla Royal.
To bid on these puzzle pieces, visit the Peace for the Pieces Social Group Silent Auction on Facebook and comment with your bid. All bids start at $5.
There will also be another silent auction featuring items such as a rocking chair, painting done by Vanessa Anger and more.
The Peace for the Pieces Social Group is designed for children with special needs and includes many with autism, shared Calvert. Group activities and events help build their self-esteem and give them a sense of belonging.
“We wanted to bring attention here to Pleasanton. A lot of our families cannot go to San Antonio for those walks, so we try to bring it local,” said Calvert. “Everybody is really excited about it … and it’s important. It’s the same thing as our group. We just want inclusion and we want them to feel a part of the community.”
She added that Peace for the Pieces does not just help children with special needs, but their siblings and the family.
“You see a huge difference with the siblings and the family as a whole. Usually they feel excluded, but this really gives them something to look forward to,” Calvert said.
Also, Calvert and her team welcome anyone who would like to volunteer for the event, especially teens looking for community service hours. This includes, but is not limited to, NHS members, Boy Scouts, FFA members, business team members and churches. Those interested in volunteering or becoming a sponsor are asked to contact Calvert at 830-570- 2782.