As we look back on the recent generosity of our community, and the huge success of our “50/50 for kids” fundraising campaign, I want to encourage us, as those who desire to invest in our community, to continue finding all the opportunities we can to help develop the next generation of leaders in our region. Even if those opportunities are through a different outlet…one that we may or may not understand entirely.  Whether it’s in the arts…or not.

It’s important that I put youth in the room with someone I know will inspire them to develop both creative skills, AND life skills.  To pair them with the best mentors I can find.  Leaders in the community that demonstrate dedication, hard work, kindness, integrity, and passion for what they do.  People who realize that wealth is found in unexpected places, and the most important thing THEY can strive to do is impact others.  Besides the artistic skills they pick up along the way, I hope they remember the people they meet along the way.

Through my own education as a musician, I learned to interpret music and text, and develop my own unique ideas of what it all means.  I learned to collaborate with the most important person in my performing career, my pianist.  Without that partner, I wouldn’t be much to listen to.  I learned to thrive on constructive criticism.  Without it, I simply wouldn’t improve.  I learned to be flexible, by working with manydifferent stage directors – whose job it was to create a show out of movements and mannerisms.  Directors have a vision, and as a performer it is my job to make that vision come to life.

In short, through the arts, I learned life skills: independent and creative thinking, collaboration, applying constructive criticism, and flexibility. 

If I didn’t find myself in the room with that first voice teacher, if I didn’t have the arts, there’s a good chance I would have been left behind, and I wouldn’t have developed all the skills I did, because when I found music and art, I finally felt that I had found my PLACE. 

And there are many more like me. 

One of the things I hope for most in my work is that we will be able to help everyone understand that kids don’t just learn life skills through sports, or school…OR art.  Kids learn differently, they connect differently.  I want everyone to find a place where they feel safe enough to learn and develop all the skills I’m talking about.  I want to provide the same opportunity to study the arts that I had, to anyone who wants (or needs) it.

Thanks to everyone who believes in supporting projects like our After School Arts Program.  As a result, we raised tens of thousands of dollars that will go straight to the next generation of creative thinkers and leaders.  Kids like yours and mine, grandkids like yours (and someday mine), and everyone in between. 

And thanks for investing in KIDS, because it’s the right thing to do.