By PAUL NATINSKY
Matthew Marroki made a mark in his community during his 17 years. Matthew is gone now, the victim of a tragic house fire in Sterling Heights last April 28. But Matthew’s memory will live on thanks to Matthew’s Masterpieces, a fundraising event in Matthew’s honor that channels his passions into support for a cause he loved.
Matthew’s Masterpieces is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m., April 28-29 at the Troy Community Center at 3179 Livernois Road in Troy.
“Knowing that it is the one-year anniversary of his passing, I want it to be a celebration in his honor showcasing who he was as a person,” said Stephanie Marroki, Matthew’s older sister.
An exhibition of Matthew’s art and reflection of his interest in helping refugees, all donated money raised at Matthew’s Masterpieces will benefit Freedom House Detroit, a temporary home for indigent survivors of persecution from around the world who are seeking asylum in the United States and Canada.
Matthew’s passion for his artwork and his love of humanitarian causes will be on full display at the fundraiser and will help further the projects and interests Matthew intended to pursue. Heading into his senior year of high school, Matthew planned to study architectural engineering in college while continuing a career as a professional artist, said Stephanie. He was also committed to advocating for refugees as a lifelong avocation. “Matthew was heavily involved in the Amnesty Club, a chapter of Amnesty International,” said Stephanie.
Stephanie, 22, also wants to dedicate her career to helping others. She is working toward a master’s degree in social work that she expects to complete in two years. She said she has “fallen in love with Freedom House” as she has become familiar with the organization.
At 17, Matthew had already traveled to Spain and was scheduling a trip to Ecuador, said Stephanie. A “kind, selfless, empathetic young man,” Matthew loved to experience other cultures and was “comfortable in his own skin,” said Stephanie.
One of the last projects Matthew helped organize was a largescale donation of necessities to help refugees make a new start. At any given time, Freedom House Detroit is home to more than 35 people seeking asylum. Victims of war, dictatorship and famine find relief there. Stephanie said Freedom House Detroit provides assistance with finding work, education, shelter and permanent homes for refugees.
Along with a display of Matthew’s artwork, Matthew’s Masterpieces will feature finger food, a silent auction and the sale of prints of Matthew’s work to benefit Freedom House Detroit.
Tickets to the event are $50, sponsorships are available for Matthew’s Masterpieces, ranging from the $200 Salvador Dali Package to the $2,000 Vincent van Gogh Package. The sponsorship packages feature publicity opportunities for sponsors including a mention in the opening speech, inclusion in press releases and social media about the event, company name printed on tickets and flyers and tickets to the event. All contributions benefit Freedom House Detroit and are tax deductible. Freedom House Detroit is a 501 (c) 3 organization. Students from Matthew’s high school, Utica Academy for International Studies, will be admitted free.
Matthew’s Masterpieces is being promoted as an annual event, although there are no concrete plans yet for next year’s event, said Stephanie. But, she said, with the event still more than two months away, support has already been strong.
For more information on tickets and sponsorships, please contact The Matthew’s Masterpieces Planning Committee by calling (586) 567-0113 or emailing MatthewsMasterpiecesEvent@gmail.com.