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Life Pieces to Masterpieces

Life Pieces to Masterpieces

According to the 2012 United States Census, individuals who graduate from high school earn an average of $10,000 more annually than those who do not.  Average annual income raises almost $10,000 more with an associate’s degree and jumps even higher with a bachelor’s degree.  Yet, in the United States as of 2011, only 32% of people age 25 to 29 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher according to the US Department of Education.  Today’s organization has focused in on one population in an attempt to increase their education rates.

The mission of Life Pieces To Masterpieces is to provide opportunities for African American boys and young men in Greater Washington, DC by developing character, unlocking their potential, and empowering them to transform their lives and communities.  Their goal is to nurture, embrace, encourage and elevate African-American boys and young men so they can grow into mature men who demonstrate social responsibility and create positive change in their communities.  Their do this by focusing on arts and education while supporting young men and boys in disadvantaged communities in Washington, D.C.

Over 90% of the young males age 3 to 25 in the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program live in Wards 7 and 8 of Washington D.C.  They call their program participants Apprentices.  These participants come from communities with a variety of challenges including social, physical, and mental health problems and gang activity.  Over 70% of the households in these wards are headed by single females which causes a lack of positive male role models for many of the Apprentices.  These conditions cause the boys and young men in the community to stray from academic development and other positive development opportunities.

So, what is Life Pieces To Masterpieces doing to make a difference for these boys and young men?  They utilize their “4 Cs” as part of their curriculum:

  • Students connect to themselves and to their classmates.
  • They create — homework, artwork, and poems.
  • They contribute — sharing their work and their thinking with a greater community.
  • And they celebrate their successes.
America What About the Children

America What About the Children
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

I think this is best brought to life through the stories of their program participants.

Lorenzo was 13 years old and had a lot of responsibilities when he was first introduced to the Life Pieces to Masterpieces program.  His parents had split up and his mother was battling addiction.  Lorenzo was left to help his eight brothers and sisters by ensuring they were fed and did their schoolwork.  He found Life Pieces to Masterpieces as his home away from home.  He is now 20 and is pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism while serving as a mentor and teacher at Life Pieces to Masterpieces.  He credits the program for “aggressively pursuing education” and for the importance it places on getting the best grades possible.

You can find additional stories of the difference that the program has made on their website.

Their program results are impressive.  They have served over 1500 young men and boys over the last 17 years with 100% of their young men graduating from high school and gone on to pursue a post-secondary education.  Many of their alumni return to serve as mentors and teachers in the after school program.  In addition, 100% the participant’s parents show satisfaction with the program and state that their young men and boys are more confident, make better decisions, and speak in a positive manner about their future.

Expressing Love (available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

Expressing Love
(available for purchase at lifepieces.org)

How can you help?

  • If you live near Washington D.C., you can help serve as an after-school program mentor.  Individuals serve as a positive role model and support the lead classroom teacher.  They are also working on a corporate art leasing program to share their Apprentices art with local corporations and provide additional revenue for their program.  Other volunteer opportunities include social media, fundraising, and volunteer recruitment.  You can learn more and contact them about these and other volunteer opportunities on their website.
  • You can show your support by shopping their store of logo merchandise or by making a donation on their website.
  • In kind donations are also appreciated.  Their current wish list includes art easels, healthy food for their summer program, a 14 seat a minivan, and boxes of white printing paper for their office.

You can learn more about Life Pieces to Masterpieces on their website, www.lifepieces.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Artists for Trauma


Healing yourself is connected with healing others. 
~ Yoko Ono 

The founder of today’s organization healed herself and has since turned to heal many others.  In May of 2008, a helicopter crash on Catalina Island, just off the coast of Southern California, killed three people and injured the other three people on board.  Laura Sharpe was one of those three survivors.  She had 43 broken bones and burns on more than 40 percent of her body.  She spent four weeks in a coma and endured multiple skin grafts and the partial amputation of her foot.

Just three short years after her traumatic accident, she co-created The Laura Project, a collaboration with five artists in Southern California.  The project portrays the crash and her recovery in a variety of mediums including photographs, film, sculpture, paintings, dance, and music.

In an article on the project in the Ventura County Star, Laura said, “It was such a spiritual engagement and so helpful for my healing process.  It’s about how you can make art from tragedy, something beautiful and artistic from the negative occurrences of life.”

Artists for Trauma

After her experience of using art to assist in her healing and feeling compelled to help other trauma survivors through recovery, Laura founded Artists for Trauma.  The organization is dedicated to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines.  They aim to expedite recovery through artistic expression and human connection.  Artists for Trauma provides a creative portal to help patients process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience.

Watch Laura tell her own story in the video below.

How can you help?
Volunteers are needed throughout the United States.  

  • If you are a trauma survivor, you can sign up to become a student artist.  Learn more on their website.
  • If you are an artist, you can sign up to be a volunteer artist to assist trauma survivors.  Volunteers are needed all across the United States.  You can learn more and sign up here.
  • You can also make a financial donation on the organization’s website.  Donations fund the equipment, supplies, and community outreach among other things to support the work of the organization.
  • If you live in the Los Angeles area, you can help Artists for Trauma at a an event on Saturday, May 4th, from 11:00

    AM-1:00 PM in Los Angeles. There is always room for more volunteers

    so if you would like to join in and participate in this fun, creative day, you can email them at info@artistsfortrauma.org.

To learn more about Artists for Trauma visit their website, artistsfortrauma.org.  You can also connect with them on Facebook, YouTube, or their blog.

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Color A Smile

Imagination is more important than knowledge. ~Albert Einstein

Color A Smile

One of my favorite things that my daughter has brought home from school is a journal.  It was actually a series of drawings that showed her memories throughout the year.  A child’s drawing can put a smile on your face and warm your heart.  Today’s organization is spreading smiles through art.

In 1986, Jerry Harris was visiting a friend when he noticed how cheerful their refrigerator door looked with all the colorful artwork from their children.  Jerry’s children were not yet old enough to draw, but he realized how a cheerful drawing can make people smile and brighten their day.  A schoolteacher friend agreed to have her class draw the first batch of pictures to distribute to seniors, adults who live alone, shut-ins and anyone else who wanted them and Color A Smile was born.

The mission of Color A Smile is to provide opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to experience the rewards of volunteering.  Their main program is collecting crayon drawings from school children to distribute to senior citizens and active military personal overseas.  They are based in Morristown New Jersey, but they receive drawings from every one of the United States and even a few other countries.

Color A Smile

Jerry Harris told me in an e-mail that they receive thank you letters every day from people who receive drawings from the program.  “People say how the drawings make them smile and remind them that someone is thinking about them and took the time to send them a cheerful greeting.”  They have boxes of cards and letters full of thanks and encouraging the organization to keep sending more drawings.  In addition, many parents, teachers, and scout leaders thank them for a program that allows young children to participate and learn the joy of volunteering.  Kids who participate in the program learn that they can help someone else by using the skills and resources available to them in their own home and school.

Since starting in 1986, Color A Smile has sent over one million drawings.  They are proud to have sent drawings to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as thousands of seniors in the United States.  Color A Smile provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to make a difference.  Jerry Harris states, “Everyone can help us to spread smiles as long as they like to create cheerful colorful drawings.”

How can you help?

  • Anyone can color a cheerful drawing for Color A Smile to distribute.  Simply go to colorasmile.org to download pages to color.  Then simply mail your completed drawings to the address listed here.
  • You can also nominate someone to receive drawings or request to receive a group of drawings each month for a nursing home on their website.
  • You can also spread cheer by sharing the monthly masterpieces that Color A Smile posts on their website.
  • You can also send a monetary donation to Color A Smile at PO Box 1516, Morristown NJ 07962-1516.

You can learn more about Color A Smile on their website, ColorASmile.org.  You can also contact the founder, Jerry Harris, directly at jerryharris@colorasmile.org or 973-540-9222.

 CAS2

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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The Monday Life

The Monday Life

Mondays have a bad reputation.  It is the sign for many of us that the weekend is over and we have to go back to school or work.  Today’s organization might just change your mind about Monday by giving you something to look forward to on your Monday.

On Christmas Eve 2009, Joey McMahon’s grandfather passed away.  Joey was living in New York at the time and working a job he enjoyed, but the passing of his grandfather reignited a desire to do something to help people.  Joey moved back to North Carolina and started working on an organization in honor of his grandfather. 

The Monday Life uses the concept of crowd-funding to get as many people involved as possible.  The organization asks donors for $1 each Monday to raise funds to support their mission of helping hospitalized children feel better and heal faster by improving their patient environments.  They raise money to fill children’s hospitals with art, light, color, music, technology, massage, games, animals and fun.  They are a 501c3 nonprofit based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and partnered with six hospitals around the United States: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Seattle Children’s, Children’s Hospital Colorado, UNC Children’s Hospital, Duke Children’s Hospital, and Miami Children’s Hospital.  

The goal of The Monday Life is to spread awareness and get as many people involved as possible. They also wanted to make sure that anyone can help.  One dollar is reasonable for almost anyone to give toward the cause.  One dollar isn’t the upper limit, some choose to donate more. 

The organization’s website lists some scientific research on each type of environment improvement that they promote.  For example, art therapy offers a distraction from pain and illness, reduce stress, provide coping skills, and offer social benefits.  The article refers to recent data suggesting that art therapy programs may result in shorter hospital stays, less need for medication, and fewer complications for patients.  Music therapy can also serve as a distraction as well as reduce pain and anxiety, and provide emotional support and comfort.

Recently, the organization started allowing hospitals who they have not officially partnered with to set up their own fundraising sites that target a particular need such as adding an art or music therapist, purchasing iPads, or other items to improve the environment for patients.   They are also working with new technology to let patients in hospitals interact with each other via tablets, smartphones, and social media sites to help provide social support and entertainment.

How can you help?

  • The easiest way to get involved is to setup a reoccurring donation through their website.
  • You can also designate your reoccurring donation toward a specific partner hospital here.
  • You can even setup a fundraising page to help fundraise for any hospital that is in your area.  The Monday Life will set everything up and help with promotion, they just need approval from the hospital.

You can learn more about The Monday Life on their website, themondaylife.org/.  You can also connect with them on Facebook and Twitter or sign up for the weekly e-mails.

Related Posts: Camp Get-A-Well-A, Kid Flicks, and Sweet Dreams for Kids

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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MN Blogger Conference Charity Recap

A couple notebooks, a few pens, a cool phone screen cleaner, a flash drive…these are just a few things I brought home from the Minnesota Blogger Conference this past weekend.  Even though that stuff was cool, they weren’t the best things I found there.  I found some great connections with other bloggers.  One blogger suggested a non-profit for me to write about, another wanted to connect with a non-profit for an opportunity, and others were excited to check out my blog.  It was exciting to connect with other passionate bloggers and learn ways to improve my own blog.

Another exciting part of the conference was the opportunity to feature a local charity with all the attendees.  The planning committee selected Free Arts Minnesota and at the conference we collected art supplies.  Bloggers brought supplies that filled two boxes to help Free Arts Minnesota to further their mission of bringing the healing powers of artistic expression into the lives of abused, neglected and at-risk children and their families.  A local photographer, Mandy of Glimpses of Soul Photography, took headshots in exchange for donations toward Free Arts Minnesota.  We collected $938.71 in cash and check donations – not even counting the online donations that were made that day.  If you would like to make an online donation, you still can at FreeArtsMinnesota.org

Donations of Art Supplies to Free Arts Minnesota

We are excited that our monetary donations will also be matched by a recent grant that the organization received from the Pohlad Family Foundation.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Other

 

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Art Buddies

Today is my husband’s birthday.  While Brent has many talents, one that stands out is his talent to draw.  He frequently entertains our children at a restaurant by drawing with them.  So, today, in honor of his birthday, I am writing about a program that pairs artistic adults with kids to use the power of creativity to change their lives.

Art Buddies was founded by Sue Crolick, a former Art Director.  In 1993, Sue organized an event for the Twin Cities Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Artists to help kids at St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  In 1994, Sue took a leap; she closed her design business and started Creatives for Causes.  She was driven by her passion to help children and started a program called Art Buddies that paired creative mentors from advertising and design industries one-on-one with kids from low-income families.  The program is based on the belief in the power of creativity and one-on-one attention can change the life of a child.  The Art Buddies program helps kids discover their creative gifts, believe in themselves, and dream big.  The children feel joy and pride in their success, and the mentors love watching them grow and help them succeed.  Over the past 17 years, the Art Buddies program has served over 1,800 kids.

The program lasts several weeks.  In the first week, the students are paired with their buddy to discuss their career aspirations.  They have the ability to try on several career outfits such as police officers, architects, dancers, firefighters, and photographers, just to name a few.  Then the buddies help the children sketch out their own career outfit.  The next several weeks of the program the buddy and child work together to design and build their career outfit using cardboard, fabric, paper, and other art supplies.  The program ends with a professional photographer taking pictures of each child in their own career outfit and a parade through the school.

There are many testimonial stories on their website, one that the organization shared with me about I thought really demonstrated the power of the program.  Andy is an eight year old child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  At school, Andy avoided other kids and didn’t want to engage with other people.  In the fall of 2011, he enrolled in Art Buddies at his school and was paired with an Art Buddy named Eric, a creative director at a local web design firm.  At the start of the program, Andy was out of control and unable to focus.  Even though Eric wasn’t familiar with ASD, he came back the next week and patiently kept trying to engage with Andy.  Gradually the two worked together and Andy slowly started to change.  He became so interested in his costume that he was able to focus more and he loved putting on his costume and showing it off.  Andy also started engaging with other kids who were in the program.  By the end of the program, Andy had a new confidence in himself; he now walks to classes on his own, talks to other students, and even developed a few friendships.

After 17 years in operation, Art Buddies is now expanding to serve even more kids and involve even more creative mentors in the community. They now need twice as many volunteers, twice as many donations, and twice as many supplies to keep the program going and growing!

How can you help?

  • Be an Art Buddy to work one-on-one with a child for 7 to 10 weeks during after school time.  You can watch their video to see what it’s like!
  • Make a cash donation on their website.
  • You can also join their mailing list to learn about fundraising events.
  • Donations of supplies are also always welcome.  You can view photos of the costumes kids have made for ideas on supplies, but they love all sort of wild and exciting materials!  Some suggestions include feathers, fabrics, cardboard, glue, pipe cleaners, fake flowers, tape, colored foil, and more!

You can learn more about Art Buddies on their website, artbuddies.org.  You can also connect with them on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.  In addition, you can stay connected with Art Buddies by signing up for their e-mail list.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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Art for Change

As a kid I always enjoyed art.  As an adult I don’t draw or color as much, but I do still enjoy looking at art.  Art is social – people stand around it, talk about it and are moved by it.  Today’s organization uses art as a catalyst for social change.

Art for Change is a 501c3 non-profit organization located in East Harlem community of New York City, New York.  The organization’s mission is to provide a forum through the arts to address the social justice issues that affect the residents of the East Harlem section of New York City.  They encourage the community to push for social change and do it by using art as a catalyst for disseminating information.

Art for Change was founded in March of 2000 by local resident Eliana Godoy along with a group of local artists, activists and supporters.  The new organization would focus on the use art to raise awareness about social and political issues, offer a platform to address and discuss these issues, and encourage civic engagement.  They are dedicated to building a better community through the arts. 

Art for Change currently has several main programs including Hacia Afuera (an annual, two-day multidisciplinary public arts festival that presents over 60 artists in the streets and public spaces of East Harlem) and “Art Belongs to Everyone”(a multidisciplinary visual and performance program that presents exhibits that incorporate interactive workshops, film screenings, dialogues and lectures). 

Art for Change also recently launched an immigration campaign with the goals of shifting the current mainstream discussion away from criminalization and giving a voice to children and young people who are often marginalized from the debate. “It’s Also a Children’s Story” is a component of this campaign. This project strives to create a platform for artistic interventions to take place in particular to give a voice to children’s struggles and aspirations. According to Harry Jean-Pierre, co-executive director of Art for Change, “Art for Change believes that supporting, equipping and mobilizing artists can help create a local and national solidarity movement that can effectively counter the current escalation of anti-immigrant hate and violence.”

As with most organizations we profile on The Blogunteer, Art for Change is a program that depends on help from volunteers.  Here are just a few opportunities:

  • Art for Change has four main committees that oversee their activities.  Volunteers are welcome to serve on the programs, finance, operations or development committees.
  • Volunteers are also needed to assist with events – including setup, cleanup, craft tables, and more. 

You can find a volunteer interest form here

You can also watch the Art for Change website for calls for artists and requests for teaching artists

Donations are also accepted directly through the Art for Change website

Learn more about Art for Change on their website, www.artforchange.org.  You can also follow them on Twitter and Flickr.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2011 in Nonprofit Organization

 

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