Celebrating Sophie Alpert

By Michelle Kelrick

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share about a role model woman—my remarkable mom, Sophie Alpert.

My mom founded Piece by Piece in 2007, following a trip to South Africa, where she saw a social enterprise organization in action. She was inspired to bring that same framework to our own communities in need with a social enterprise mosaic art organization. My mom got straight to work to bring this organization to life in Los Angeles, conducting research, talking to everyone that could potentially be helpful, taking classes and doing outreach. She was on a mission, one that required tireless work and perseverance, but nothing was going to stop her from turning her vision into a reality. It’s unclear if my mom even slept during the early months (or years, if we are being honest).

Sophie with Nancy and Frank

Sophie with artists Nancy and Frank

The first fundraiser was in our backyard. Friends and family got to make a mosaic pot or frame, and that’s precisely when we began to understand that mosaic work is not only a creative, therapeutic outlet, but also a challenging skill as well. The level of talent that has since emerged is astounding. For years, if you walked into my parents’ house, you would see mosaics lined up in every room of the house. The garage was filled with broken tiles, pots, frames, mirrors and all sorts of recyclable materials that people would find and bring to my mom. Her car was always stuffed to the brim with materials that she was shuttling back and forth. She would bring the materials to workshops, and return home with a car full of more beautiful mosaic art pieces.

Alpert Family with Lifesaver Mosaics

My mom has the unique ability to think both big picture as well as strategically about on-the-ground implementation. She made it all possible: there was no job too big or too small for her. My mom learned every facet of the business—from accounting, fundraising and program development to marketing and communications. From the first workshops at a low income housing facility to expansion to several workshop locations, visiting teaching artists, commissioned work and community projects, it’s been absolutely incredible to see how my mom always finds meaningful opportunities to grow and deepen the impact of Piece by Piece. 

Sophie with Artist Jose at the mosaic mural commissioned by Universal Discover a Star Foundation 

Over the past 18 years, my mom has changed the course of history for hundreds of
people, creating a safe space and creative outlet for Piece by Piece participants, and allowing them the opportunity to earn income and become their best selves. One  participant, Juan said, “God bless Sophie for her great work at Piece by Piece, which has helped many different communities and at the same time helped me to fight depression, anxiety and stress.” Another participant Jose added, “She is an angel who arrives for the most needy people, giving her help, time, generosity and a big smile when these people are going through difficult times.”

Piece by PIece team with Sophie, celebrating the completion of the Villas at Gower commission. 

While there are countless people that can talk about the impact my mom has made on their lives, I can confidently say that my mom’s biggest fans are her 4 children and 11 grandchildren, who lovingly call her Foof! We are all so fortunate to love her and learn from her. My mom has shown us that when there’s a will, there’s a way. She lives by example, devoting her time to bettering our communities, and making our world a better place. I am honored to especially celebrate my mom this month, as she is a true hero in our community. Los Angeles, and so many lives, are better because of her generosity and vision. 

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1 comment

  • Sophie is the kindness most giving person I know, she had changed hundreds of peoples lives with this organization. Rick and I couldn’t be prouder to call her our dear friend!

    Debbie Powelll on

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