This is great organization to get involved with as you immediately feel you are contributing to the goals of the organization. The others involved in AfC are great as well, welcoming and helpful in ensuring your contributions are meaningful. In addition, the organization is doing great things in the neighborhood of East Harlem. They really make an attempt to reach out to the community and provide them with great programs.
I have had a tremendously rewarding experience being a part of Art for Change (AFC), in particular as a volunteer with Hacia Afuera 2010, an annual public arts and music festival in East Harlem. I worked with an incredibly motivated and passionate group of volunteers from East Harlem and other NYC neighborhoods and the amount of dedication and care that went into planning the art exhibits, musical performances, arts and crafts tables, and community outreach was consistently inspiring. It's amazing to me that the organization is sustained by individuals whose jobs and lives may have even taken them out of East Harlem, and yet they still find common ground at AFC. As a volunteer who recently moved to East Harlem, I was immediately and organically brought into the AFC family, and I felt as if I were a respected and able contributor from the outset. What is also important, is that AFC is not just about the activism of "doing", which in and of itself is an admirable accomplishment, but it is also very much about sharing, learning, and teaching. During the process of planning for Hacia Afuera, I relied upon the wisdom and skill sets of other organizers, but also felt empowered to share what I have learned from my previous community organizing experiences. Finally, I am most comforted by the fact that volunteers have time for one another in a way that fosters synergistic personal and communal growth.
A few years ago, I was introduced to Art for Change via a friend and was thrilled to have an opportunity to volunteer my time during Hacia Fuera that year. The children's art projects were fun, the other volunteers uber-energenic, and the weekend was simply great! Last year, during an AFC meeting for volunteers interested in assisting with the 2011Programs, I joined a committee to help coordinate the AFC Childrens Art Workshops, which are held on the First Saturday of the month. These workshops are taught by volunteer teaching artists and are FREE!
Only a few months into the process, I have found it to be a wonderful way to volunteer and, in the process, to make use of my skills and experience for the benefit my community. I get to meet and support other teaching artists in their visions for workshop projects, and frankly, I'm thrilled to have a small part in making a difference.
Gandhi asked us all to "Be the change we seek" - AFC allows me to "be my change"! With our first workshop under AFC's belt, and more to follow in months to come, I'm certain the monthly series of Children's Art Workshops will be a great success! The children who came to our first program and built a temporary mural in our gallery space were clearly inspired by the teaching artist, Kate Fasbinger, and parents were thrilled to see their child(ren) so engaged.
If I had a magic wand (or much deeper pockets) and could provide a wave of funding for AFC, I'd focus first on providing a stipend to the teaching artists we are working with. You see, these weekly workshops are actually provided by the teaching artists through their interest in making a difference! AFC provided the supplies, and thus our programs are limited to a meager budget!! On the bright side, and certainly more important to note, these artists come to us with their proposals, seeking only to join us in our shared interest -- that of making change and to do so through the arts!
I personally enjoy meeting new families in my community. The hope and joy for their children that I see in the eyes of parents often takes my breath away. As a parent (an empty nester) I am pleased to have the opportunity to do volunteer work for a non-profit organization which brings arts events and creative, empowering dialogues to the community of East Harlem. I feel proud to be a part of Art for Change.
A 5-star rating is no exaggeration for this all-volunteer organization that continually delivers amazing programs and events with its limited resources. I believe it's the volunteers indefatigable energy, dedication and passion towards the arts and social justice that make this possible.
I first became involved with Art for Change (AfC) as a volunteer in 2004. I have been impressed with the organization from the start. Art for Change creates exciting programs that benefit the community on a limited budget and has been a home away from home for many young volunteers, artists, and community members. I've continued my involvement with the organization, because I see it making a real difference in this world.