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September 20, 2009

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September 20, 2009

I have had the distinct pleasure of performing in a couple of ASTEP benefits, and working hand in hand with Mary-Mitchell Campbell. I can tell you that there is so much love in this group. It has a very large following of artists from all over, and they truly make a difference in these childrens' lives. It has been an honor to be involved.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The precision with which every little detail is carried out, and the care that every single person brings with them.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 20, 2009

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September 20, 2009

I believe that each of us wants to give back in a way that counts, that truly matters.ASTEP has opened doors for me to join fellow artists in striving to make positive changes in the world in a hands on way by bringing hope to people through the arts as a universal way of healing and helping those in need. Uplifting and encouraging young people through music, drama, dance is an amazing opportunity and nurtures their ability to dream and see beyond circumstances that surround them daily. ASTEP provides tangible help, inner strength and hope.The volunteers at ASTEP want to release the power of possiblility . That is what we can all strive for; to go beyond physical borders and walls and see the chance for a better tomorrow. To be able to witness even small changes in the eyes of young people by sharing my own passion for the arts is a gift beyond description

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazingly giving and in complete agreement about the powerful affect the arts can have in shaping social change and encouraging young minds to broaden their ability to flourish in ways they may not hve felt remotely possible.

Ways to make it better...

I had more time to give.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 20, 2009

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September 20, 2009

I have watched ASTEP grow and flourish over the last 5 years. Through ASTEP's affiliation with the Broadway community, provides children all over the world the chance to bring the performing arts into their lives when no one else would enrich them. ASTEP's work with the untouchable children at Shanti Bavin in India is unprecedented. Combining music, theater, therapy, and most importantly, love, they are able to communicate with children so that they may he them to rise above conventions of status, poverty, and social stigma. ASTEP is deserving of any award that it may be seek or honored with.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

through combining music, theater, therapy, and most importantly, love, they are able to communicate with children so that they may he them to rise above conventions of status, poverty, and social stigma.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

give every child in need a personal and social opportunity to enrich their lives through the arts.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 20, 2009

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September 20, 2009

I've done a lot of work with this non-profit, and it's absolutely fantastic. I worked alongside and with a number of ASTEP volunteers 'on the ground' in India, and have seen the incredible and inspirational effect they have on the young people they work with, and the enormous strength of the volunteers they recruit. The organisation is genuinely life-changing for those who are lucky enough to come into contact with it. Through my work with their volunteers and because of the high opinion I'd formed of the organisation and Mary-Mitchell, I later became more closely involved with their plans for future development of the school in India, and was able to offer my advice and perspective on what I'd seen there. So I've seen what goes on behind the scenes in NY as well, and can honestly say it's extremely well and efficiently run by completely dedicated people. I can't speak highly enough of this non-profit and its people.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

its work in Shanti Bhavan school in India, where the volunteers have taught and inspired numerous young people through a long association with ASTEP. The school would not be what it is without ASTEP.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Give it more back-office staff so that they could provide even more support to their volunteers.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

that it has inspired me to rethink my own life and what I do in this field and has helped me to find a purpose in my own work with young people.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

unbelievably dedicated and inspiring people, who had a real passion for their work and were selfless in sharing it with others.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

revolutionise the education, aspirations and life prospects of thousands of young people around the world.

Ways to make it better...

it'd been longer... I'd got to work on more of their different projects. I'd found more time in my life to work with them.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

fund-raising in this economic climate; continuing to develop their work in broader areas.

One thing I'd also say is that...

the organisation is highly reflective on how to improve itself.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 27, 2009

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August 27, 2009

I am proud to say that I have been intimately involved with the people and work of Artists Striving To End Poverty since it's inception. I felt in the beginning as I feel now; ASTEP programming, staff, and volunteers are pushing the envelope in frontiers that are overlooked far too often in arts education. The staff and volunteers take the time needed to listen to and try to understand the programming, each other, and most importantly, the community (youth and partnering organization) that they are working with. Having had much experience working with other arts education based organizations, I feel confident in saying that ASTEP has been unique in this area - the staff is committed to the idea that the community is stronger if everyone has a hand in creating it. The training, programming, classes, and performances are born directly from this sentiment. Another area that I find ASTEP surpasses many other organizations is that the programming itself is inspiringly creative. Ironically, other creative arts organizations available to students around the world are very formulaic in the way they present material and develop their classrooms; they find something that works reasonably well, and that model gets repeated over and over again, until the excitement and life is squeezed from the programming altogether. ASTEP brings the excitement back to the creation process and reinvents curriculum to suit the needs of a particular community. Part of the exciting program development stems from the fact that ASTEP collaborates with extremely gifted and creative artists from across our country. These artists bring their ideas and talents to the table and dialogue with ASTEP in order to inspire and challenge the other artists on the team and the students in the community. ASTEP is an organization that has made commitments to communities that really need their support, and this is perhaps the most striking and important aspect of my experience with them. At a time when there isn't a lot of money to infuse into NGO's, I know that ASTEP is doing everything in it's power to keep the programming going for the sake of the people that they have made commitments to. The generous staff and volunteers work tirelessly to create the very best programming possible and to make sure that the arts are a sustainable part of the communities they work in. My hat is off to staff, volunteers, and other supporters of ASTEP who are trying to listen to the world with a keen ear and reflect back the experiences of people who are rarely, if ever, invited to share in the conversation.

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If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

...make an even more significant impact by developing much more sustainable programming in the communities that it already has a hand in, and potentially create several more sites where ASTEP would be just as effective.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 27, 2009

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August 27, 2009

If you had asked me why I wanted to volunteer at ASTEP's Arts-in-Action camp earlier this year, I might have responded by saying because I love art and its where my friends are (Which is true!). But this summer changed that answer a bit. The impact the camp had on me was much stronger than last year. I realized how much the kids loved camp and how much it affected their lives. I saw my little cousin cry on stage at the end and I was about to bust in tears too. My faith in people was down at the time and camp reminded me there is still good in the world. The good, even if it only reaches a couple of students, is worth fighting for. It felt great to be a part of something that changed lives the same way it changed mine. I'm a firm believer that if you tell someone something about themselves long enough and frequently enough they will come to believe it. If you tell someone every day they are ugly they will believe it eventually. If you try and tell someone they amount to nothing everyday they will come to think they are worthless. ASTEP told me every day of camp that I could change the world; I believe I can. I want to teach next year, to return to the process of changing lives. I want to tell the campers everyday they can change the world and I want to do it the best way I know how...through art and love!!!

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the positivity and support it provides. At AIA summer camps both volunteers and students are encouraged to support and inspire others in their pursuits and sharing of art regardless of their artistic ability.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

diverse. Volunteers come from various parts of the world. They are all very friendly and dedicated workers and each of them provides a unique set of skills, knowledge and experience that they share with each other and the students of the camps.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

End Poverty. ASTEP could change the world with the help and support of many people and it continues to grow. $ 10 million I'm sure would be a jump start.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 26, 2009

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August 26, 2009

I loved working with this very friendly and hands on company from the start. Starting with the initial interview, to all the help in aiding me in going to India, to hearing from the kids at SHANTI BHAVAN about all they have done in the past, to a follow up after my return to the states---everything they do is instilled with love. They are interested in your opinions, how to make things better, and in making this a better world to live in.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the faces of Indian children, peoples reaction when I explain what they are doing to better humanity, and how it changed my own life.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

aid them in getting more staff so that the few were not so busy with so much.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

it is ever growing and they work on making it better every time.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

all open minded individuals that were ready to rol with the punches and adapt to anything that might happen.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

be unstoppable in turning the course of poverty worldwide into an immediate concern for all.

Ways to make it better...

both myself and the staff hadn't been so busy before my departure overseas. We cold have ironed out more of the details, but then again thats also what made my experience so raw and natural. Nothing can be perfect and things always change.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

getting people to donate money in this current economic situation.

One thing I'd also say is that...

all of their staff work fulltime elsewhere apart from the work they put into the organization. Rarely do you find that in a non-profit.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 25, 2009

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August 25, 2009

The founder of this program, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, is a friend and colleague of mine and I have been awed by the work she and her organization have done since she first mentioned it to me years ago. I donate every year to the general organization but also participate annually in a program where I adopt an orphan in India. My check basically supports her for a year, and we have received letters and photos from her. ASTEP is my favorite charitable organization because I feel like I can see exactly where my money goes. I am one degree of separation away from the people who are actually in the field doing the work, and I hear first-hand accounts of what a difference they are making. It is my hope that one day in the future I'll be able to make the trip myself, as a volunteer, but until then I'm so happy to be able to support such outstanding work. Kudos to Mary-Mitchell and everyone at ASTEP.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

feeling like I was so close to the work actually being done. Other nonprofits feel like you write a check and it winds up in some administrative place. With ASTEP, I can see the results of the money I'm contributing.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 24, 2009

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August 24, 2009

I became involved with ASTEP because its founder came to visit our school. When I moved to New York, I looked them up as a way to give back to my new community. After my initial orientation, it didn't seem there was much I could do to help. I sold a few products on eBay for them, but for the most part, ASTEP really needed fundraisers and volunteers to work at arts camps and at schools abroad. About a year later, I received an email that there was a need for volunteers to go to India. Since I was looking for a change, I decided to apply. I'm so glad I did. The time I spent teaching at Shanti Bhavan changed my life. The entire school becomes a home away from home, and the staff and students treat each other like family. Every day brought excitement and challenges. The biggest pluses in my ASTEP volunteer experience were definitely the energetic and helpful staff, the easy and straightforward approach to fund raising and reimbursement, and the free room and board. The negative side of my experience was the planning. Although I received training, without specific knowledge of what age I would teach, it was difficult to plan lessons in advance. Otherwise I found every one to be kind, helpful and caring. I would recommend getting involved with ASTEP to anyone who loves kids and wants to give them a brighter tomorrow.

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If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

bring so many children hope for a better life! With the very little funding ASTEP does receive it manages to touch the lives of hundreds of children every year in India alone. There are also programs in South Africa, Florida and New York!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

August 24, 2009

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August 24, 2009

My actor friend, Titus Burgess introduced me to ASTEP and it's founder in 2006. They were putting together a concert for a fundraiser and asked me to be a part of it. Not knowing anything about ASTEP prior to the concert, I rehearsed with it's founder, Mary Mitchell-Campbell(amazing musician), and thought, "If this woman breathed this organization, it must be extraordinary because she is!" And it is. I work with different nonprofits and what is most important to me are the people running it. Before I give of my time and energy I want to know that their heart is in the right place and they mean what they say. Ms. Campbell has such compassion for the children and for the world. After singing in the concert I was sold! ASTEP is about sharing, caring, giving, lots of love, and MUSIC! I will sing as loud as I can to raise even just one dollar for ASTEP. They change lives and make the world a little better to live in. This I know to be true.

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The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Passionate about change. They were kind. They were educated and ready to answer any question that came their way.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Have more supplies (dance shoes, books, instruments, clothes)for the children, more local help from neighboring communities, spread their artists around the world, build, and extend the lengths of their programs.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

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