EJ Horrocks and Alex Manfred

EJ Horrocks (left), and Alex Manfred are hiking for Aurora Studio & Gallery.

A Hike of 2,180 Miles Lights the Way for Area Artists

by Lori Greenberg

What happens when two women who are impassioned about people, the arts, and mental health join forces?

A great deal of joy and creativity! This is what occurred when I met EJ Horrocks in December. EJ was just two short months away from leaving on her planned 2,180 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail, from Springer, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine, with her childhood friend Alex Manfred.

Me, I had been trying to figure out simple ways to network and fundraise for a new nonprofit. The nonprofit, Aurora Studio & Gallery, has the unique mission to provide a supportive art studio for artists in recovery from mental illness, addiction and homelessness, “A studio where artists heal, grow and thrive.” The idea was inspired by an artist I had met who lost her housing due to the downturn of the economy, which then was compounded by a flare up of her mental health symptoms.

So, when I met EJ, she immediately endorsed our mission. And I immediately endorsed her effervescence and stick-to-it-iveness. I instantly felt a strong bond with EJ, her spontaneity, and warmth were contagious. She was eager to do something for Aurora Studio and proposed that while on her hike that she and Alex raise money, by “Hiking for a Cause.” Then EJ came up with flyers and began to look to the community for support.

EJ and Alex, both natives of Asheville, left for their adventure on March 1 and plan to arrive in Maine around August first. At this writing, they have traveled close to 900 miles. And thanks to technology the two have been able to blog, almost daily, on their wondrous adventure. It has been a heartwarming experience to live vicariously through their written words which can be found at ejhorrocks.wordpress.com or Alex’s at www.postholer.com.

The two have raised over $1000. However, the project needs $100,000 to get up and running. A penny a mile (rounded up to $22) is the suggested donation for the hike to support EJ’s enthusiasm and our efforts to support wellness through the arts in Asheville.

Contributions can easily be made through the paypal account on our web-site at www.aurorastudio-gallery.com or checks can be written to Arts2People, c/o Aurora Studio & Gallery, PO Box 2094, Asheville, NC 28806.

Aurora Studio & Gallery was established in May of 2012 and is currently raising funds to open an independent nonprofit studio space. While working on the complicated tax-exempt paperwork, we have had the awesome pleasure to be sponsored by our good friends at Arts2People.

Look for a Welcome Home Party in September to be sponsored by the Hop Ice Cream Cafe in Asheville!

Lori Greenberg, M.Ed, CSAC, lives in Asheville with her two cats. When she is not working on Aurora Studio & Gallery, she can be found kayaking on the French Broad River, hiking on the parkway, planting flowers in her garden, and weaving with rags. She may be contacted at lori_aurorastudio@hotmail.com