Felecia Gail Gaston was denied admission to her local school of ballet when she was a child because of the color of her skin. Years later, this painful experience was to become the impetus for one of her greatest accomplishments.
In the late 80s, while serving as the Community Relations/Cultural Events Coordinator at the Marin City Multi-Service Center, Ms. Gaston became interested in developing opportunities for Marin City Children to increase their self-esteem. One such opportunity was a scholarship program she developed in collaboration with the Marin Ballet, which enabled Marin City children to take classes as the Marin Ballet. By 1990, the Multi-Service Center closed its doors, leaving Felecia without a job and the children without an avenue to pursue ballet.
Refusing to let an opportunity die, Ms. Gaston shared her dream with Anne Rogers, executive director of the Marin Community Food Bank, and with Community Action Marin (CAM), an umbrella organization for social service programs. With their support, she founded “Performing Stars of Marin,” a non-profit agency offering low-income children, predominately African American, an opportunity to learn dance, martial arts, grooming, discipline and manners in an environment of respect and support.
Ms. Gaston was responsible for bringing “Performing Stars” from a struggling neighborhood program with no budget, to a successful county-wide organization. Through her determination and commitment, she has earned great respect in Marin county and beyond, and has brought together people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. Her successful relationship with other Marin arts organizations impressed the Marin Community Foundation, which has become the major financial supporter of “Performing Stars.”
Ms. Gaston enjoys the enthusiastic support of many Marin City families as well. They see “Performing Stars” as a positive, inspirational alternative to the perils of poverty. As one of her nominators said, “Felecia is, herself, a ‘Performing Star’ in Marin County.”
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