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September 25, 2009

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September 25, 2009

I traveled with ASTEP for a month in their international outreach efforts to India. It was a life altering experience and I will be traveling with them again in January on a similar trip. The organization is a phenomenal outlet for artists/performers to give back and help in a very direct way. We work one and one and in class settings to help underprivileged children learn to express themselves. This has the immediate benefit of out and out fun, but has a far deeper effect by inspiring kids to establish higher goals and teaching a variety of techniques for acheiving those goals for their futures.

The Great!

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

my travels that allowed me to see the impact this kind of artistic exposure has on the children. I have seen very emotional and destructive psychological walls broken down through the introduction of art.

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

seeing people experience the power of constructive artistic expression.

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

professionals and semi-professionals from various artistic fields.

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

widen its outreach and touch a vast number underprivileged and/or deprived children here in the States and abroad, inspiring them to create a brighter better future for themselves.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 24, 2009

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September 24, 2009

ASTEP is a beautiful organization!! I first came to know it through one of it's leaders, Mary-Mitchell Campbell. After taking part in a handful of arts events that helped raise funds to assist the Shanti Bhavan school in India... I started getting really hooked. So much good can be done with so little! I love knowing that the door is open for me to visit India through ASTEP to help in a more hands on way if I choose/am able, but that in the mean time my financial gifts are put to great use. Everyone I have met at ASTEP is really dedicated and directly in contact with the many, many little people that benefit so greatly from this wonderful organization.

Ways to make it better...

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

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

that everyone seems to be directly involved with the people it benefits... perhaps this is because it's not too big! I like the intimate feeling of it--it makes it very personal.

Ways to make it better...

I could hear from my student even more!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 24, 2009

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September 24, 2009

I first learned about ASTEP through friends of mine, and was asked to help work on a fundraiser. During the event, there were slides shown of the people that ASTEP was helping...young children who live in poverty-ridden area's in parts of India. And then, you see the volunteers able to go out there and bring joy and smiles and light to their world. It really touched my heart to know how far human beings would go for eachother. And to know how much art translate's to any culture or age group. I am truly honored to now work with and help ASTEP in any way that I can.

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

so wonderful and passionate about their cause. It is almost overwhelming to see people giving as much as they do to people that are so far away in so many respects; distance, age, culture. Every interaction with the staff is beautiful.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 24, 2009

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September 24, 2009

As a performer I have done lots of benefits for charities and organizations. What I have found so compelling about ASTEP is the passion and the personal change in the lives those who come back after volunteering for one of their international programs. Unfortunately, I have been unable to go myself but I have seen the change in the people who have gone and heard the stories that they tell. One of the best ways to teach and create change is not to lecture but to give a FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE. Arts education programs have a unique opportunity to give that. Through ASTEP's work, change happens! Every person I know who has been a part of ASTEP has come back with a new leas on lif as well as stories of amazing things that are happening in some of the poorest areas of the world. One particularly moving story was about a little boy in South Africa with amazing dance ability but none of the dance vocabulary. They sought out a prominent dance company who agreed to take him on scholarship IF he had the dance vocabulary. ASTEP volunteers worked with him to bring him up to speed and he made the company. This changes not only his life but the lives of his family and anyone who knows him through his story and the inspiration it brings. The stories go on and on for this amazing group. I am proud to support such a passion and purpose driven organization for this award. I promise you that you could not give it to a more deserving group.

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

Help create change in communities and help change the next generation through active participation in the arts. Its reach could be so much bigger!!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 24, 2009

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September 24, 2009

ASTEP creates opportunities for people like myself to help underprivileged children around the world. I have had the opportunity to use my talents as a musician to help this wonderful charity through concerts and recordings. My wife and I are hoping to travel to one of ASTEP's sites soon.

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

using my talents to help underprivileged children around the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 24, 2009

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September 24, 2009

The Art-In-Action Summer Camp created by ASTEP volunteers was the program that did it all for me. Before I was ever old enough to even think about volunteering for any organization, let alone ASTEP, I was a camper. After my first summer, I learned, not only the simplicity in loving art through all of its elements, but also, that I had the capability to be an amazing artist by just saying "yes" to all the challenges laid before me and by letting the true me come out and play with the world. It was on the last day, during the dress-rehearsal of the final performance that I said YES and with all the years of stage fright clinging on to my shoulders, I held on to my brother's hand (then the drama facilitator), and began to sing in front of all the campers, all the teachers, all the administrators...everyone. I sang my favorite song, and as it happened, I gradually felt the fear slip away. It was because of this camp that I grew confident in myself as a person, a friend, and an artist. I returned every year until I was too old to participate as a camper. I then continued as a Group Leader (a.k.a GL); a mentor for the middle school campers. GL's are the essential bridge between the facilitators and the students. They aid in the running of the camp and help facilitate activities in the classroom alongside the teachers, so that, eventually, one day, they can do the same and teach the arts to the kids in their own community. My summers were dedicated to the camp, and the extra curricular time during my school year was solely for the GL group. Our mission was to serve the youth of our community with the arts and continue building artistic awareness. Our community of Homestead still struggles to live cohesively with the arts, but the GL's did everything possible to paint murals, put on shows, take as many teens to the plays downtown, paint faces at the park, and build a family of artists filled with youthful energy, friendship, a sense of community, and the passion for the arts. This past summer, I taught at the Art-In-Action Summer camp for the first time. After 6 years of receiving the confidence, the passion, the support, the awareness, the love, the art, I was finally going to give it all back. Ultimately, this is the goal: the community will grow and learn from facilitators that travel from all over the world to then return and be able to sustain its own, and teach the incoming pupils; give back to their own community; teach their little brothers and sisters, like my brother taught me. I worked with two other musicians: a singer/guitarist from Seattle and a percussionist from New York. We had a focus group of 13 middle school musicians hungry to hit those drums, strum those guitars, blow their trombones and saxophones, rap those words, and sing their hearts out. After the three weeks, all 13 had learned the basics in music theory, created lyrics, a rhythm, a melody, and a full-sized band to “rock it out” at the final performance. I was so proud to know that I was there, that I was their support, I was their teacher. In the beginning, I feared that I wouldn’t be able to teach them anything, but in the end, I knew that I had taught them to let the music live within them, to let it push away those fears, and to let that music be heard. Like I said, this organization's project (AIA) did it all for me. If I could, I would nominate it for ALL awards. Its work is inspiring, encouraging, educational, passionate, growing, and simply awesome. It’s impacted so many around the world and deserves a billion thumbs up.

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

its drive. It desires to bring the arts to kids all over the world; and through doing so, allow at least at one to act through the arts and let go of the fears, of the inhibitions, and just say YES to the world. It has inspired so many to go beyond.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 23, 2009

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September 23, 2009

ASTEP is among the few non profits I know which strives to forge strong, communicative relationships on all fronts. The volunteer's relationship with not only the children/people who they encounter in their work but with those working at ASTEP is placed at a premium. The emphasis on the quality of human life of the children which they help is remarkable. One never questions their motive or their priorities.

The Great!

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

the communication with its volunteers.

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

friendly, competent,professional and driven.

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

SAVE THE WORLD

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 23, 2009

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September 23, 2009

ASTEP is the most empowering organization for youth I've come across. The full-time staff and the bulk of the volunteers are truly committed to illuminating the possibilities of hope and courage and overcoming obstacles for all those impacted by poverty, class, politics, resources, tragedy, etc. My experience in volunteering w/ ASTEP, especially for the Arts in Action Camp in 2008, was an incredibly validating time - confirming for me the pursuit of a teaching degree - for which I am now a candidate.

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

The chance to make a difference in the lives of others - and the skills and abilities with which ASTEP empowers its volunteers to accomplish what seem like unreachable goals. ASTEP illuminates the possibilities for volunteers so we can empower others.

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

Open and generous and intelligent, and responsible.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

September 23, 2009

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September 23, 2009

ASTEP (Artists Striving To End Poverty) is hands-down one of the best youth-arts non-profits I have ever worked with. From the founder to the staff to the volunteers, the commitment level, humility, passion and impact of the organization is astounding and infectious. Their listening-first approach to working with underserved communities and youth has been one of the most effective methods I have experienced as a teaching artist. Instead of trying to provide a solution-based curriculum or a one-time experience, they seek to understand first what the issues of the community nd the youth are, and create a dynamic and immediate arts curriculum that addresses those issues and concerns. They build a presence and a relationship with a community, returning yearly to continue the work -- in Homestead, Florida and at Shanti Bhavan in India, there is now year-round arts activity. That investment in a community, that understanding of safety and needed space for the kids to see themselves beyond what they know -- it reflects the intentions and commitment of ASTEP to long-lasting, transformative, empowering arts experiences. Last year, I volunteered for a week at their summer arts camp in Homestead; it was an absolutely life-changing and life-shaping experience. The mentoring artists work almost non-stop to bring an unforgettable and inspiring arts experience to kids who otherwise have very little access to the arts. I remember being astounded at the lengths to which they will go to bring a sense of magic and possibility to every day of the camp. In the first meeting I attended, I remember thinking, "There is no way that what we are planning is going to happen, especially with so little resources." And lo and behold, it did! That is ASTEP's motto: Anything is possible -- and they truly practice what they preach. They believe it for their students and they believe it for themselves, and the kids begin to believe it for themselves. Seeing kids who are surviving incredibly difficult circumstances transform and grow and change and blossom in the camp hooked me into teaching and passing on the arts as a major part of my life, especially within underserved communities. Inspired by my time with the organization, I am now partnering with ASTEP volunteers and artists to create an arts-camp experience for youth in my home community. ASTEP is incredible. I continually draw from my experiences with ASTEP for inspiration, insight and instruction as a teaching artist with other organizations too. I have heard from participants in the programs to volunteer artists how their ASTEP experience opened them to worlds within themselves that they didn't know existed. Through the support of ASTEP and their involvement with the arts, they are imagining themselves and their lives beyond their present conditions. Not to mention, they draw volunteers from some of the highest tiers of artists around! I continually talk about them and refer people to them, because I believe that they epitomize what this work is about: utilizing the arts as an agent of service, change and transformation in individuals' and communities' lives.

The Great!

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

both my professional artistic life and my work as a teaching artist.

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

absolutely incredible.

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

start a youth arts camp experience in every continent and eventually link them, so that youth from vastly different backgrounds could hear each others' stories and see themselves in each other. Basically, they can and are changing the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

September 23, 2009

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September 23, 2009

I first learned about ASTEP through a classmate of mine in college who fundraised for her trip to India. When she returned it was clear that she had had a profound experience volunteering at Shanti Bhavan. Since then I've had several friends and acquaintances who have trekked overseas to participate in ASTEP's India program and they have all had remarkable experiences. This summer I began volunteering at the ASTEP office helping with bookkeeping, and while the tasks are simple, I still feel like I'm contributing what I can for the time being. (And Beth is consistently good company.) I hope to head to either the India or Africa program within the next two years. ASTEP is an important vehicle for change that harnesses the generosity of spirit and talent of artists. I look forward to learning more and more about the change this nonprofit is making in the world as I continue my involvement as volunteer and artist in the ASTEP family.

The Great!

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

the stories my friends and staff members have shared with me.

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

Young, friendly, focused, knowledgeable, caring, genuine, specific, responsible, generous.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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