'Stars in the Grove' talent show raises nearly $2,500 for popular local dance nonprofit

COURTESY PHOTO - (Left to right back row) Catherine Williams, Margie Petersen, Jennifer BeLusko, Rainy McLoud, Lenika Hutchens and Stephanie Lind and (from left to right front row) Michelle Robles and Patty Petersen received a check from Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce President Howard Sullivan last week to help fund dance scholarships. Patty Petersen and other Ballet Forest Grove leaders accepted a check for $2,494 last week from the Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce.

The money will help fund scholarships for dance students. Ballet Forest Grove is a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers.

"It's very exciting that we'll be able to help many dancers be able to continue dancing," said Petersen, who founded Forest Grove Dance Arts — a separate organization — and sits on the Ballet Forest Grove board.

The chamber raised the money through its annual talent show, Stars in the Grove, which features community members of all ages showcasing their special skills. Each year, the funds are donated to a different local nonprofit.

Last year, 19 dancers applied for scholarships to help fund their higher education, summer camps and local classes throughout the year. The organization was able to distribute the $10,000 they had in their scholarship fund to each applicant — the most it's ever given, Petersen said.

Fundraisers throughout the year — primarily holiday performances of "The Nutcracker" — boost the scholarship fund. This year, Petersen said, they're hoping to give out another $10,000 to local dancers and maybe more with the help of the chamber's donation.

"It's such an honor for our board of directors to be able to give out this money," Petersen said. "We are so grateful for all of the community support we continually receive."

By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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