To say Patrice Downey is a woman on a mission would technically be telling the truth. To be accurate, however, one would need to say she is a woman on many missions.
As a local R&B artist, she has dedicated herself to teaching the values of self-acceptance and appreciation to girls and women of all ages through her music. As a community educator, she has turned her cause into Ugly Who, LLC, which provides workshops to help promote these values in community centers and schools around the Milwaukee area and for young girls at the Neighborhood House of Milwaukee.
It is through a combination of both of these passions that Downey has begun her third, a wellness series that kicks off this coming Saturday with "Pink. (Pronounced Peengk, Period)." This installment of the event series will feature live entertainment and a silent auction to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
"I wanted to represent a cause I believe in and I've experienced," said Downey. "My family is thoroughly affected by cancer, and I have many survivors in my family. I want to celebrate winning the battle."
Choosing the American Cancer Society as her first beneficiary was an obvious choice for Downey, who had been involved with them in the past through her former position at the Northside Branch of the YMCA.
"The outreach there was so strong that I was always participating in one of their walks or events," she explained. "I have always been tied to the American Cancer Society in one way or another."
While the series looks to maintain the mission of her work with Ugly Who, Downey emphasized that the event is geared to the whole community.
"With it being based on a girls' organization, I wanted to make it clear that this event wasn't just for women, and we're not limiting it to breast cancer," she said. "We worked hard to figure out what we could get people to contribute that would be of interest to men. We decided to gather music from local artists for auction prizes, so there's an R&B basket, a hip-hop basket and a jazz basket. I've gotten a lot of support from the local music community."
Not only did "Pink." get a positive reception from local artists, the response from the community as a whole has been tremendous enough to surpass even what Downey had hoped to accomplish.
"I was just planning a cute, small event," she said, "but all the feedback and encouragement have tripled my expectations. I've been getting so many phone calls. Folks are just jumping on board and I think that's amazing."
In addition to the silent auction, the band Chris Crain & Co. and a local female poet yet to be determined will perform, and representatives of the American Cancer society will speak. Downey herself will take the stage to perform her song "Ugly, Me?" which inspired the mission of Ugly Who.
"Pink. (Pronounced Peengk, Period)" starts at 8 p.m. at MiXXers Bar & Grill, 1712 W. Pierce St. Admission is $20, which includes hors d'oeuvres and dessert.
Plans are already in the works for the next couple of events in the series, which include one in January that will focus on mental wellness – another cause close to Downey and her mission.
"I really believe in the saying 'stand for something, fall for nothing,' so I had to look at what causes were out there that I could really speak about with passion," she said. "In order to achieve wholeness, you have to be mentally well. If you're not comfortable with yourself on the inside, what's outside is irrelevant."
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.