For the Families

Vestavia Voice: By Katie Turpen - Nearly 20,000 military children have lost a parent to combat or accidents over the last 35 years, according to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.

This month, a local gallery invites the community to shop for unique art while helping these children. On July 10 and 11, Artists Incorporated will host a special fundraising event featuring live music, food and a variety of art for sale. A portion of all proceeds during the two-day event will benefit the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.

“They’re an all-volunteer foundation and rely on the community to find those who need their support,” said Artists Incorporated Gallery Director Mary Jean Henke. “Every penny of every dollar gifted to them goes directly to these families.”

Located in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the foundation provides scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. It also serves every military branch of service and helps repay student loans. 

Since inception, the foundation has granted more $7.5 million in assistance and identified more than 5,500 children who need help. “Our nation has all but forgotten these surviving family members. It’s such a wonderful cause.” Henke said.

Artist Jerome Vason is one of the main coordinators of the fundraiser. He estimates that about 25 artists will be making items especially for the event. Vason is thrilled with the gallery’s choice to support the foundation. “The recipients receive 100 percent of the donations,” said Vason. “That’s what really drew me to it.” 

The cause is close to Vason’s heart.After attending Berea College, Vason joined the U.S. Army and remained in service for 22 years. Throughout his military career he maintained his art skills by painting murals and completing artwork at various duty assignments.After retiring from the Army, Vason returned to Birmingham. Artists Incorporated was the first gallery he visited, and he is now a board member there. Vason works out of his studio in Alabaster and travels to various art shows across the Southeast showcasing his work, which is primarily painting with oil, charcoal, acrylic and ink. “I make sure to tell people this is not a hobby for me, it’s a job,” Vason said.

Artists Incorporated Gallery has been in Vestavia Hills for more than 15 years. The gallery displays the work of 50 local artists and aims to foster an appreciation of a variety of art mediums in the community.

For more about the gallery, visit