On the Wings of Angels

On the Wings of AngelsPhilanthropist, artist and author Chloe Fugate shows young people can make a differenceBy Zandra Wolfgram

When she was in elementary school, Chloe Fugate was struggling with her studies and finding her place in the world. Her mother, Robi Fugate, encouraged her to write down her goals as a way to visualize her dreams and desires.

Almost 9 years old, Chloe wrote that she wanted to be an artist, a published poet and a person who would “do good in the world and give to others as she made her dreams come true.” It didn’t take long for the dreamer to find her wings.

The Washington Point resident began by painting angels. The whimsical art took flight, and locals began purchasing them for $140. Chloe donated a percentage of the profits to her favorite charity, Studio by the Tracks, a nonprofit art studio in Irondale, Ala., that welcomes at-risk children and adults with autism, Asperger syndrome and mental illness.

Not long after her angels were lifting the spirits of locals, the owner of several Birmingham, Ala., Hallmark stores invited Chloe to put her angels on T-shirts and sell them during the holidays. That led to a special showing at the businessman’s upscale fashion stores.

“Lots of people came, and I autographed over 50 T-shirts that day,” Chloe said. “My favorite was a little lady who had lost her husband earlier that year, and she had read about my angels in the paper and had to have one. I knew that the angels had power to heal everyone they went home with that Christmas.”

As Chloe spread her wings, she seemed to fly higher. A woman in the Austrian capital of  Vienna, invited her to paint angels on canvases with the Art Miles Mural Project, which consists of 12 1-mile-long, acrylic-painted, themed canvas murals created by people around the world. Also impressed with Chloe’s poetry, the woman submitted it to the ChildArt Foundation, and it was published along with Chloe’s angels.

At age 11, Chloe began to travel around the United States giving children a voice by speaking for peace and the environment as a Peace Paint Ambassador for the mural project. She also attended the United Nations’ Tunza International Children’s Conference on the Environment, held in August 2009 in Daejeon, South Korea. While there, she collaborated with children from 50 countries on environmental concerns.

“I also spoke last year during Earth Day in Denver, Colo., where I was honored to meet John McConnell, the founder of Earth Day,” she said. “He is an example to me of believing in our visions and taking the steps to see them come alive.”

In 2009, Chloe also traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, to learn about her current interest, fair trade and farming. She is planning a trip to South America to learn even more. This year, she is president of Anchor Club, a local group of girls who volunteer in the community. Chloe plans to travel to Egypt next winter to celebrate the culmination of the Art Miles Mural Project. In her spare time, the South Walton High School junior is preparing for college entrance exams.

Now a confident 16-year-old, Chloe says her calling is helping others fly.

“Every time I have the chance to connect with others and help make the world a better place, my heart fills with a sort of wholeness and happiness,” she said. “By helping others, I feel as though they are helping me to understand, learn and grow.”