Sunday, June 2, 2013

How can I make a difference?

This Question was just posed to me recently by a lovely lady I met at Allisa Burkes art retreat.

“I want to learn more about how I can start giving back to my community thru my art but haven't got a clue where to begin.  I'm just too shy to go out and talk about myself.  How did you start your program?”

I contemplated on this question all week. For some of us we naturally learn “giving” skills from parents or other teachers in our lives, and for some like my niece Meghan just “do it” that's a whole other post!

My mom (who passed away in 2000) was my greatest “giving” teacher for how to treat human beings, well really beings in general. I have a quote that hangs in my art room by Abraham Lincoln that reads “All that I am I owe to my Mother”. For me this is true, she was always, kind, patient, and gave freely to others. She would make little crafty creations for people she didn’t know… I thought it was a little “odd” when I was a teen to be giving so freely, but of course I do the exact same thing now! Yes, I have turned into my mother despite thinking I NEVER would. But now I am so glad that I did!

There are so many people who want to help through art or other ways but just don’t know how. They may feel they don’t have time, or get overwhelmed with all the ideas and they give up before they get started as the thoughts of helping can be overwhelming. Start small...

There are many ways to give back to the community through art. You don’t have to start an “Art Mobile”, give talks, or do anything out of  YOUR comfort zone. If we all chose one small teeny, tiny thing to do on a daily or weekly basis, think of how much brighter the world would be!

Here is a list for ANYONE
to help in their community.

1.    Host a Service Art Party: even if you are shy you can still invite a few friends over to raise funds for youth, elderly, or anyone in need in your community. Have an art potluck where everyone brings art supplies to package up and give to needy community members. If you have artsy friends I am sure they all have art supplies they could donate. If that feels to overwhelming to start with you could host a giving event at the library where you leave an “Art Donation Box” for community members to leave new art supplies. You could then put your own packages together with friends and then deliver!

2.    Teach a neighbor’s child or friends grandchild how to make a nature journal. Very easy to do and teaching kids is a lot less stressful than adults, they usually have no expectations and soak up what you give!

3.   Write a letter to local elected officials or school principal encouraging them for making good decisions for keeping art in schools. People work harder when they know they are appreciated. And elected officials seldom hear enough encouraging words. This is easy and you could write one letter for several schools in your community (make sure to personalize with names).

4.    Shop LOCAL: This is one of the things I try to do in my life for everything I buy (see previous “shop Local post”). When you have a gift to purchase, shop from a craft vendor or artist in town. Etsy is also a great means to by from artists if you don’t have community artists in town or can’t get out of your house.

5.     Volunteer Match: is a great resource for helping in any community around the country.

6.   Partner with a friend: If your really shy but want to do something out of your comfort zone partner with an outgoing friend. You could be the organizer and they can be the presenter! The local library is always looking for teachers to start classes for any age. I recently taught an altered book class for free at my local library. They actually offered to pay me for another future class! You never know where your good will lead you!

7.    Set up an art exhibit at a local business, sell the creations, and use the money to fund a cause in your community. Start off with emailing first, this way it feels less overwhelming then just walking into a business cold turkey.

8.   Organize a campaign to raise money with SignUpGenius Payments for art supplies for your local schools that are in need.

9.   Start an after school art program, too shy to teach the class? Contact your local community college for art students to do the teaching for school credit! This way you are helping twice.

10. Work with kids who have special needs on an art project. Being the owner of a residential home I know how important this is and how grateful the organization and kids would be!

11.Make gifts with friends for kids in the hospital. You could do something as simple as making cards for kids. Don’t have a lot of time? Make one card and copy it on card stock at your local print shop.

More tips in a future blog post!
Start today! BE THE CHANGE!

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