Kirsten Ingbretsen, Idyllwild School teacher, organizes charity effort

Donna Elliot (left), Neil Jenkins (center) and Kirsten Ingbretson standing in front of the mobile butterfly, which helped raise $1,500 for the Idyllwild Help Center. Photo by JP Crumrine

First you have a goal. It could be as simple as learning a new recipe. Or it could be extensive, such as giving aid to your community.
How do you achieve that goal? Considerable time can be invested in formulating a plan, then it has to be tested and, finally, you proceed.
After the Cranston Fire, while in San Diego at an educational conference, Idyllwild Middle School history teacher Kirsten Ingbretsen had an idea and dream to help the community.
Then she quickly and easily found a means to accomplish this without investing considerable time in developing a new and individualistic plan. She saw the means were already available and she, with help from the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, needed only to adapt it for Idyllwild.
She discovered the philanthropic “Butterfly Effect.” “… I was instantly touched and inspired,” she said.
The “Butterfly Effect” is the creation of Tasha Wald of San Diego. She started it in 2013 and Ingbretsen brought it to Idyllwild. It combines social media and philanthropy.
“Once an install is authorized, [Wald] will donate from her organization $1 for every photo taken inside her wings (following some social media hashtag steps) to a charity of our choice for up to one year,” Ingbretsen explained.
With the help of AAI, in particular Neil Jenkins and Donna Elliot, two butterflies were created. One was mobile and the other located at Idyllwild School. The mobile butterfly was a major contributor since the Idyllwild School campus is closed to most people. That made it difficult for visitors, as well as residents without students at the school, to get a photograph with the butterfly.
“I’m very excited about the results, but we wouldn’t have been successful without Tasha’s agreeing to the traveling butterfly,” Ingbretson said. “I did not envision this success and am most excited about where the money is going.”
And Jenkins added, “I’ve seen people who have never smiled before, grin ear-to-ear in front of the butterfly.”
The mobile butterfly panel has make appearances at several local events, including October’s Art Walk and Wine Tasting, the Halloween parade, the Tree Lighting Ceremony, Cinco de May, and locations such as Middle Ridge Winery Tasting Gallery.
When the mobile butterfly is not displaying its beauty and magnificence in public, it rests at the Idyllwild Arts Academy, Elliot said.
This month, Wald sent Ingbretson a check for $1,500. That is how many photos of the butterflies were sent to her and identified with the Idyllwild effort. This money will go to the Idyllwild Help Center.
“It was wonderful. She reached out to us after the Cranston Fire,” said Colleen Meyer, executive director of the Help Center. “It was an amazing opportunity and so many people in the community contributed, including the middle school students.”
But the effort will not stop. The next step, according to Ingbretson, is to find another organization that will sponsor the effort. If the new organization will donate $1,000 for 1,000 photos, Ingbretson and the others will emphasize the company’s contribution to the effort. It will not be a silent partner.
This step, which others have done, creates the butterfly’s ripple effect. Someone will notice the butterfly mural, the photographs, understand the charity work and create their own butterfly effort.
One of Jenkins’ friends works on the Ophelia Project in the desert and is already considering undertaking a “Butterfly Effect.”
The funds would be used to support the project, which is an effort to empower young women.