Entertainment

Herstory Weekend in Belleville celebrates women and helps community

Eva Ortiz, 14, of Belleville, plays drums at the Notre Dame Academy talent show earlier this month. She learned to play on her own using dad Rick’s drumset.
Eva Ortiz, 14, of Belleville, plays drums at the Notre Dame Academy talent show earlier this month. She learned to play on her own using dad Rick’s drumset.

A 14-year-old Belleville girl will open for St. Louis blues diva Kim Massie and the Solid Senders on Saturday night as part of Herstory Weekend in Belleville.

Eva Ortiz is one of two teenagers selected to perform at the fundraiser, which celebrates the gifts and talents of women and raises money for the Tapestry of Community Offerings.

“I think I’m going to sing ‘Ride’ from Lana Del Rey, and maybe a Stevie Nicks song if I have time,” said Eva, an eighth-grader at Notre Dame Academy. “I love Stevie Nicks. She’s a huge inspiration to me.”

Eva also will get some private time with Massie to learn about the music business. The other teenager slated to perform is Phoebe Lieberman, of St. Louis.

Eva is the daughter of Rick and Lisa Ortiz. She taught herself to play drums on her dad’s drum set and recently formed a band called Psychedelic Division with friends Keely von Gemmingen on bass and Luke Breunig on guitar.

“It’s a indie rock kind of a band,” Eva said. “We haven’t come up with any original songs, but we cover The Strokes, Mac DeMarco and Foxygen — that kind of thing. We haven’t played out anywhere. It’s more like a jam session so far.”

Herstory will take place from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Governor French Academy in downtown Belleville. New this year is a trivia game on Friday.

It will include all the usual genres of trivia, but it’s focusing on the accomplishments and stories of women. Each round will end with music, which I think will be fun.

Kim Vrooman on new trivia game

“It will include all the usual genres of trivia, but it’s focusing on the accomplishments and stories of women,” said Executive Director Kim Vrooman. “Each round will end with music, which I think will be fun.”

Other Herstory activities include a silent auction, raffle, belly dancing demonstration and the TOCO Shop Mobile Diva Boutique with better clothing and accessories from the nonprofit organization’s resale shops.

On Saturday night, a Beautiful Lengths Ceremony will honor those willing to donate hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Organizers also will introduce winners of Making a Difference awards, which recognize accomplished women in the region.

Everyone is invited to the two-night celebration, not just women. Admission is $15 per person. Food, soft drinks, wine and beer will be available for purchase.

“Fly solo or with your friends,” according to the press release. “Come costumed as your favorite contemporary or historical woman.”

This year’s Making a Difference winners are Katie Robbins, president of Confluence Crush Roller Derby; Danielle Faulkner-Schaffer, Trap, Neuter, Return program director for St. Louis City Kitties; Annie P. Clark, board member for Racial Harmony and founder of the Center for Spiritual Living; Janice Griffin, TOCO board member; and Ayesha Hameed, who helps girls and women transition from chemically treated hair to natural texture.

This is the 12th year for Herstory, which raises money for TOCO programs that promote sustainability and family empowerment. That includes resale shops on Main Street in Belleville and Cherokee in St. Louis, as well as a “textile pantry.”

“It’s like a food pantry,” Vrooman said. “But it provides clothing, housewares and other necessities to children and families in need.”

Wanda Conyers and her two daughters have frequented the TOCO Shop for about four years. They live nearby.

“My daughters have formals sometimes, and they go and pick up dresses and regular clothes for school or just to knock around in,” said Wanda, 47. “I’ve bought pots and pans and all kinds of household items, books, CDs, you name it.

“I don’t have a lot of money, and the TOCO Shop gives me a way. ... If my girls see something they want, they can actually get it. Household items cost an arm and a leg new.”

Wanda began volunteering as a sales clerk about a month ago to fulfill a community service requirement for her state assistance. The former nurse is recovering from breast cancer.

“I love working at the TOCO Shop,” Wanda said. “Everybody goes there. It’s a popular place. ... It helps my spirits. It’s just a joyous place. It’s upbeat and uplifting.”

At a glance

  • What: 12th annual Herstory Weekend
  • Who: Tapestry of Community Offerings
  • When: 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (doors open at 6:30)
  • Where: Governor French Academy, 219 W. Main St. in Belleville
  • Admission: $15 per night
  • Information: Visit www.tocofamily.org or call 618-257-8626

Herstory Weekend schedule

Friday

  • 7 to 11 p.m. — TOCO Shop Mobile Diva Boutique, silent auction and raffle (food, soft drinks, beer and wine available for purchase)
  • 7:30 p.m. — Trivia with breaks for boutique shopping and auction bidding

Saturday

  • 7 to 11 p.m. — TOCO Shop Mobile Diva Boutique, silent auction and raffle (food, soft drinks, beer and wine available for purchase)
  • 7 p.m. — Eva Ortiz performance
  • 7:30 p.m. — Phoebe Lieberman performance
  • 8 p.m. — Making a Difference Awards
  • 8:40 p.m. — Haircuts for Cancer Survivors
  • 8:45 p.m. — Aalim Bellydance
  • 9 p.m. — St. Louis blues diva Kim Massie
  • 10:30 p.m. — Raffle ends (need not be present to win)
  • 10:45 p.m. — Silent auction ends
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