Rubesin said this is the third year the event has been held at the Great Room at Top of the Hill. While the Art Therapy Institute serves people all around the Triangle, this location is accessible to a majority of the event's clients who are in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
“While it is a fundraiser, a major part of our mission is to be an accessible organization for all," Rubesin said. "So it's just a suggested donation ticket price. Really our main goal is just to have a community based party to honor everyone involved with ATI."
Love & Valor will be providing live music for their second year at the fundraiser. The band is primarily based out of Burlington and plays original folk-Americana style music.
“It sort of started as a small idea to raise a few funds for our programming,” Rubesin said. “And every year it’s really grown into this really fun community wide event. This year I think we have more art donations than ever and more business donations.”
This is the first year that Tai Huynh and the Poetry Fox have been involved.
Tai Huynh, UNC student and Chapel Hill Town Council member, will be the emcee at the event.
“They do a lot of work specifically with the refugee community in town, and that’s a community that I very much love to support and advocate for. My parents are refugees so I just felt a special connection to that and wanted to help out how I could,” Huynh said.
Chris Vitiello has been attending local events as the Poetry Fox for seven years, but has been writing poetry since he was very young.
“I’d read a poem in one of those kinds of anthologies of poems and write a little parody of it or write another verse on it,” Vitiello said. “So it was just kind of a natural attraction for me so I started writing very young.”
The Poetry Fox writes impromptu poems based on single-word prompts from strangers on his typewriter. Vitiello estimates he’s written 25,000 poems as the Poetry Fox.
At this point Vitiello says the fast-paced writing process has become easy for him. The most difficult thing now is making sure every poem is unique.
“I’ll be at an event, and I’ll sit down and write 50-60 poems with no break between them,” Vitiello said. “The big challenge might be not being repetitive on my end of things. Nobody at the event is going to be reading more than one of these poems, but I have to have the experience of all 60 of them. So to keep the 59th poem different from the 58th or first poems that I’ve written that evening — that’s a challenge for me.”
Vitiello said that he sees a connection between his work as the Poetry Fox and art therapy.
"This isn’t just like putting a coin in a slot and getting a widget out of it. This ends up being a pretty substantial interaction," he said. "I think people are kind of hungry for that and it does end up being really therapeutic for people."