Guest editorial: Making a difference, in honor of Clara Zabriski

24th Sep 2013

Originally Posted Here


The following is a Guest Editorial written by a member of the Jupiter area community.

Every holiday season our family shops for one or several special needs children using specific wish lists provided by our church.

Called the Secret Shepherd program at JupiterFIRST Church, our family’s youngest child, Clara, loved helping her family pick out the gifts every year.

Two years ago, Clara passed away the week after she turned 10 years old.

Along with enduring numerous heart operations during her life, she ended up succumbing to an extremely rare and swift-spreading cancer. Between all of the bad stuff, however, there were days, months and years of lightness and fun and basic ordinariness with her family and friends.

As the opening paragraph in her obituary read …

“Clara Eagan Zabriski of Jupiter, FL, daughter of Bruce and Sarah (Marmion) Zabriski, formerly of Southampton, N.Y., and sister of brothers Evan and Neal, passed away on July 16, 2011. Born July 9, 2001, she lived a wonderful and full ten years. She loved playing with her friends in the neighborhood, doing Girl Scouts, lying on the big bed with her dog, Stauch, and most of all being home with her family.”

When the family contemplated what organization to direct the memorial funds to, the Secret Shepherds program was the obvious choice.

Using the monies donated in Clara’s memory, the family recruited volunteers to shop for the 75 or so children that the fund would cover. The family specifically chose special needs foster children to receive the gifts because these are the kids that don’t have “forever families” to help them get through the life’s struggles as well as to celebrate the good times.

These are the kids that can fall through the cracks. Perhaps if they feel special one day a year knowing that there are complete strangers that care about them, they will feel lifted and hopeful.


After the first year, Clara’s art teacher Jackie Gaines, who helped Clara paint a starfish on her 10th birthday from the children’s oncology ward at St. Mary’s, offered to stage a starfish art contest at her studio in Jupiter.

Jackie had promised that she would do whatever she could to honor Clara’s memory and, as a foster child herself who wasn’t adopted until she was 19 years old, she had another reason to get involved and to do what she could for these kids.

Last year, the funds raised allowed the family to purchase holiday gifts for 40 more kids.

The second annual fundraiser, called “Making a Difference in Honor of Clara Zabriski” is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 17. The event will be held at Brush Strokes and More by Jackie, located in the mall behind the Home Depot, off Indiantown Road.

Everyone is welcome to attend. If you have auction items to donate to the event, they will be gratefully accepted. Please drop them off at Jackie’s studio at 401 Maplewood Drive, Unit 18 in Jupiter.

The event is from 5 to 8 p.m., and will feature a silent and live auction, dinner and beverages, as well as the starfish art contest winners announcement and more.

Auction items include everything from golf memberships, a dinner for six at Trump International, a signed baseball bat from Tommy Lasorda, to beautiful handmade jewelry by family friend Kelly Cohen.


To learn more about Making a Difference in Honor of Clara Zabriski, visit Jackie’s site at

All of the event proceeds will be used to purchase gifts for special needs foster kids, pre-screened by the Foster & Adoptive Parents Association (read about FAPA online at

All donations are tax deductible through the foundation that Clara’s family has established in her honor. Visit to learn more about the foundation.

Please join Clara’s friends and family, and members of the Jupiter community, and celebrate life and the feeling of doing good work.

Bruce, Sarah,

Evan and Neal Zabriski

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