This is an organization who’s team members are dedicated to the kids and teens involved. It gives amazing opportunities to kids that may not have otherwise had these chances.
I have been a part of UNITY since 2014 when I completed a graphic design internship for the Voices of Unity. I joined UNITY full time a year later after graduating college and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities UNITY has given me.
UNITY provides so many amazing experiences and opportunities for growing into the best person you can be (not just for youth, but for anyone who is involved in this organization). One of my favorite memories was touring with the Voices of Unity on their 2016 European Tour to Italy, Austria, and Hungary. This was one of the first times I had heard the Voices of Unity sing live. If you have never heard the Voices of Unity Youth Choir, come to a concert to experience and witness the power of this organization. UNITY is much more than a choir!
As a student, I enjoyed the different culture and environment that I was exposed to. My favorite experience was the summer program that had the students taking different performing arts class during the day! From Music History to Piano classes, to Dance then to Drama, it kept us busy and moving. I had fun each day!
Now as an employee I get to see the same excitement in our current students’ faces. The impact can be measured by years. We have a facility that will house all these programs year round for students! I can’t wait. At the end of the day, I’m just working on giving our current students the same, if not better, experience that I had.
I have been involved with Unity for 13 years in many capacities. I have watched my own children grow from the empowerment & experiences. I have watched many Unity students over the years grow & prosper from the foundation they build being a part of this organization. My daughter said it best in her “Thank You” letter to funders for the 2017 Impact Report - Unity is part of my family! I have always felt like part of the family from when I was a parent, then volunteer, then mentor, now still a staff member!
WE ARE FAMILY!!
Coming from a background of music based on the traditions of liturgical and secular music of Western Europe, I had never been exposed to the "Soulful Art Forms" that you find at Unity Performing Arts Foundation. With a background in teaching and social work, I am particularly impressed with the passion of our director to give our young people opportunities to perform, travel, and develop into young leaders regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Unity is not just an outstanding organization where young people come to sing, it is a family.
What UNITY means to me...
"Anything you want good you can have!"
I have been involved with UNITY since 2006. Singing mentors KK Eko & Nonso Okoli initially introduced me to the choir via an invitation to a rehearsal. Since they knew I loved to work with children, they were positive I would be a good fit within the organization. I began my journey as a choir-singing mentor and tutoring mentor for Biology and Chemistry. We take time to build relationship with the students and families that come through our organization that makes them feel a part of a family in the organization. All the hard the work is paid off when we see the youth in the organization excel with excellence at school and all the areas of their lives. It is a joy to work with the organization. Unity Performing Arts Foundation is unique environment for youth and adults with so much diversity that makes our culture in organization Unique with excellence
Unity Performing Arts has changed my life. As an alumna of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir (VOU), I can honestly say that I would not have the successes that I have today without the impact of Marshall White and my Unity Family.
When I joined the choir 6 years ago, I was 13 and thought I was doing just that, joining a choir. But VOU is so much more than a choir and Marshall White is so much more than a Choir Director.
Unity has become my home and has opened my eyes to a new outlook on life and the world in general. Not only have I been educated on various soulful art forms but also everything that high school never taught me and what I should know before going into college and the real world. I was introduced to the 20 Prescriptions to Living the Good Life, a few of my favorites being: Treat others as you would like to be treated; Show respect for all life, human and animal; Make a commitment to continue education throughout your life; Help those who are suffering or in need. And we can even list all 20 in English and Spanish. It is a requirement that we learn all of our foundational statements and prescriptions in English and Spanish, not just for flaunting purposes, but to exercise discipline and uphold our standard of excellence and nothing less.
I have been exposed to all sorts of platforms to use my gifts and establish connections to later create a network of powerful people. This early exposure allowed me to be a powerhouse in my first year at Ball State University. Taking Marshall White's advice to "Never say 'no' to an opportunity to grow", I took advantage of many new and exciting opportunities that are definitely outside of my comfort zone, but will ultimately enable me to grow.
It was with Unity when I went outside of the country for the first time. I was 15 and we went to Riga, Latvia for the World Choir Games. It was then when I discovered my passion for traveling. In the four years since then I have been out of the country twice to study French and Leadership Development.
The brains, blood and passion behind Unity is Marshall White, Choir Director/Life Coach. Mr. White's passion for what he does and his desire to empower youth is what has kept me coming back for 6 years and what will keep me here for many years to come. He has become a father figure for me, as he embodies what it means to love unconditionally. He is a consistent source of support and I know he will always be there to help me through "this thing called life."
We would like to encourage businesses, corporations, politicians, schools, churches, foundations, and professional individuals to consider investing your resources into the success of the incredible young people that come through this program.
What can I say about all the wonderful aspects of this organization? When I was a young, school age talent, I had nothing to cultivate my artistic gift minus what I was able to do at church and with my family. I encourage the talented (and even not so talented) youth of today that have an opportunity to experience a structured performing arts and youth development model, to do so! Not only are you able to experience quality artistic programming but you are able to be equipped, enlightened, empowered, educated and exposed to tools that will aid you in being an exceptional, well-rounded, adult leader. I am hoping that more of our community members get on board and decide to become an investment partner with this quality organization.... UNITY KEEP ON CHANGING THE CULTURE AND LEADING THE WAY!!!!
From the perspective of one of the Organization's newest hires, I am excited about working for this great organization. I recently taught a Junior Achievement class to a group of 7th graders. The lessons are centered around helping student start the critical thinking process for what adulthood will look like financially. The first lesson was about identifying the foundation for your career path: skills, interests and values. The goal is to use those things to structure your path.
As I taught the lesson, I realized that in my current position at Unity Performing Arts Foundation, Inc. as grant writer and copy writer, that I had achieved a trifecta. In my opinion, volunteering is a part of the human experience. UNITY is heavily supported by volunteers and many hands are needed to pull off some of the productions that are dreamed up and executed, so I get plenty of opportunities do something that I find vital in helping tomorrow's leaders.
Although I am not personally involved in the program, I am very proud to be a part of an organization that sees writing as one of the great arts through our Expression Creative Writing Program.
Finally, I LOVE music, all music. I am eclectic. Not to mention I attended a Performing Arts Junior and Senior High School. Who knows what would have happened if that initial love of music had been nurtured?
For these reasons, UNITY exemplifies the purpose of a not for profit to serve their community without expecting the payback to match the payout.
Every experience that I have had with Unity Performing Arts Foundation has always been positive. The volunteers and staff are patient, loving, and extremely hard-working leaders! Our young adults (young leaders) involved reflect the same qualities! Unity Performing Arts Foundation exists to provide a unique and excellent platform that educates and exposes youth and adults to the rich heritage and culture of the soulful art forms. UNITY offers workshops, seminars, master classes and other forms of learning.
I enjoy every moment I spend with the organization! One of my favorite events to attend was this year's Empowerment Camp 2018 at Lutherhaven Camp Site. I was a volunteer, leading our young ladies, ages 13-19. We had access to many workshops such as Entrepreneurship 101, and Self- Defense (Extremely engaging!). We were provided with not only workshops held by professionals to equip our youth with more leadership qualities, we also had time to get to know everyone! I feel more connected to our youth, and the organization. Its like being a part of a HUGE, LOVING, family! We were also provided with great food! A big thank you to our cooks. They were amazing! The staff was so engaged and involved in every moment. Very grateful to be in such great hands here. I will be attending camp every year!
I have been associated with this nonprofit organization since 2010. I originally became a volunteer because, at the time, I was the ED for a grassroots nonprofit and understood the need for good volunteers. After becoming involved as a volunteer and singing mentor, I ended up becoming a contract staff member and the rest is history. I have maintained some type of relationship with this organization throughout and will continue to until I leave the Fort Wayne area.
My involvement with this organization has given me such an appreciation for young people and their struggles today in a world where access to information is overwhelming! Children are being inundated with social and peer pressures personally and virtually. Those influences have done a considerable amount of damage to the typical child's psyche, much more than I recall growing up in the 60's and 70's.
I believe the work done in this organization is genuine and demonstrates to young people that excellence should be a requirement, not an option to achieve. Values are taught that some may consider "old-fashioned", but they have held true for centuries when it comes to proper respect and dignity given to one another.
This organization demonstrates that hard work does yield excellent results. In their first World Choir Games competition in 2010 in Shaoxing, China - they walked away with a World Grand Champion status and Gold medals for the categories they chose. They later returned in 2012 (Cincinnati, OH), 2014 (Riga, Latvia) and had extraordinary results in those World Choir Game competitions as well.
There is so much more to tell - but I would encourage you to visit their website at www.upaf.com and see for yourself. This organization is transforming lives of young people and providing opportunities that they would otherwise not have access to. It quite literally is a "Godsend".