By Paige McAtee
There are endless ways to raise money for charity: walks, runs, bake sales, raffles. But this month, Lark Tattoo is taking a different approach to raising money for autism.
For the past three years, Lark Tattoo has been participating in Ink4Autism. The nationwide event asks various tattoo shops to donate proceeds from any autism-inspired tattoo done in April (which is Autism Awareness Month) toward the foundation Autism Speaks.
Throughout the 20 years that Lark Tattoo has been open in Westbury, the store and its employees have been committed to making a difference. “We are always looking for a philanthropic way to touch the community,” said store manager Ed Niemczura.
“Autism is something that touches us very close as we have a couple of employees who have friends and family with autism,” said Niemczura. “When the opportunity arose to raise awareness and funds for autism, we jumped at it.”
Those who participate in Ink4Autism have also been affected by the disorder in some way. Levittown resident Sarah Greller has two sons diagnosed with autism. She had the symbol for autism, a colorful puzzle piece, tattooed on her forearm. Sitting atop the puzzle piece are two sparrows that represent her two sons, Benjamin Robert, 4, and Alexander James, 3. Below the puzzle piece, she had the word “persevere” tattooed.
“Persevere has been our guiding family word to keep us through the hard parts of it all,” Greller said.
Greller could not wait to go home and show her sons her new tattoo. “I think they’ll be really excited about the colors,” she said. “They really love colors and they really love shapes. I’m sure I’m going to hear the word ‘persevere’ spelled out a million times in the next couple of weeks.”
Greller has other tattoos that are always covered and she says that this is her first visible tattoo. She hopes this will lead to good discussions about what autism is.
“It is so important to me that there will be acknowledgment and acceptance of autism,” she said. “I know that I’m going to be talking about this tattoo every day because people are always going to question it.”
Lark Tattoo has been so successful in getting people to participate in Ink4Autism, that the shop is completely booked up for April, so they extended the fundraiser through May.
“I don’t know any other shop that has done that so far,” said Niemczura. “We were very happy for that.”
This tattoo will give Greller just another chance to bring up the topic of her two amazing sons and how they’ve changed her life. “It will make it that much easier to fight the battle and do everything I need for my kids,” Greller said.
Lark Tattoo is located at 1610 Old Country Road in Westbury. Find out more at www.larktattoo.com or by calling 516-794-5844.