A young woman from Liberty is in her 11th year of creating art in the hopes of helping others, and she will do the same this Saturday in Sedalia.
Jenny Unrein, who has Williams Syndrome, and her mother, Wendi Unrein, are special guests at the 37th annual Center for Human Services Ladies Brunch/Auction hosted by ProEnergy. The event will take place at the Sedalia Country Club, where Jenny will create a piece to be auctioned off for CHS.
CHS development director Susan Mergen said the theme this year is polka dots and 103 tickets have already been sold. She said when she first met Jenny she thought she was “just darling.”
“She’s so personable and her ability is so artistic,” Mergen said.
Williams Syndrome is a genetic and developmental disorder where several genes are missing from the seventh chromosome. Jenny, a client of CHS, and her mother spoke to the Democrat by phone Wednesday and said she began her business with the idea of helping cancer patients.
“We started this … to help raise money for cancer research,” Jenny said. “I was watching Oprah (Winfrey) one day and she had a girl on that sells lemonade for cancer.”
The show was a catalyst for her to help others. Her mother, an artist, said before they began the project she noticed Jenny would create “passionate” cards filled with hearts.
“The thing with Williams Syndrome, is it’s a very passionate syndrome,” Wendi said. “These guys are so sweet. They are very kind, very happy, very loving.”
Wendi said before launching JennyLU Designs online, she encouraged her daughter to make artwork to sell as a fundraiser. Her first few pieces were all purchased by teachers at school.
“Her transition coordinator (Kak Eli Schneider) said you should make this into a business,” Wendi said.
They took the suggestion to heart and since then JennyLU Designs has gone global. Mother and daughter have traveled across the U.S. and also to Australia attending conventions.
Jenny said they found their customer base to be special needs educators.
After launching the business, they both began again to concentrate on donating work to various fundraisers.
“She has one that sold for $500,” Wendi said. “The most important part, the best part for me is it’s given Jenny a voice in the marketplace. But, it all came from her and she’s very particular about her artwork. She won’t let me near it, which I am ecstatic about.”
Jenny’s work is brightly colored, upbeat and features flowers, animals, hearts and a line of happy bovines titled “Jenny’s Cows.”
“It’s very eclectic, it’s very unique,” Wendi said. “We have our own corner so to speak.”
Wendi added she is encouraging Jenny to include “her words” with the art pieces. She likens each word Jenny adds to a gold mine.
“It’s like finding gold,” she said. “I have to be careful and really talk to her about things and then she’ll pop something out and it’s perfect. That’s what I want more than anything, is her words. I want what’s in her heart to come out.”
Wendi said they recently moved to Missouri from Kansas and she is thankful for the direction and help Jenny has received from CHS.
“We are really passionate for what CHS is doing,” she noted. “They have been very encouraging to Jenny. But even more so, I want to encourage any of these organizations to rise above the fray. Because there is so much coming at them financially … I want to always encourage this field. I want people to be a part of that too, so they can understand what it’s about.”
Jenny will complete artwork Saturday which will be auctioned off and she will also have several other pieces for sale during the event.
“I’m really excited to do this, and show people what I can do,” Jenny said of coming to Sedalia. “Hopefully they will like it and understand my way of art.”
“It just helps to put a face to the mission,” Mergen said of Jenny.
Mergen added that there also will be baskets in the auction from local businesses, artists and from the staff at CHS.
“I can say 88% of the staff at CHS donates not only 110% percent of their job, but they financially support our mission,” she noted. “This was a fun way to do it.”
The Brunch/Auction will be hosted at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Sedalia Country Club. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. For more information, call Mergen at 660-826-4400. For more information on JennyLU Designs, visit www.jennyludesigns.com.