I was working in the office itself doing data entry work for those who had made donations that past financial year, updating their contact details and logging the amounts posted to ASTEP.
Any time I have been involved with ASTEP it has been a wonderful, learning, joyful and emotional experience. ASTEP is a unique organization that thrives where others have may have failed and looks to see where the weakness is in order to strenthen it, and succeed to help others to make it the best that it can be for the sake of others. We live in a world where our priorities have changed, life is fast and we forget about those who have a desire and need for help...particularly children. ASTEP is diligent in working to make sure these children have the tools to make it through tough situations using the most available asset to all of us - the arts. Bravo to all who serve tirelessly and selflessly, who are part of this organization to make it better each and every day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I served at the Master of Ceremonies for a Winter ASTEP benefit concert in 2008 produced by ASTEP@NYU which is one of the highlights of my career here in NYC. We had an incredible roster of singers who all came out pro bono to assist the cause. The audience was a mixture of industry professionals, students, and friends. ASTEP serves as a connecting force in an industry where is is easy to get tunnel vision. Artists are historically the ones who change the world and lead revolutions and ASTEP is certainly on the way towards making long lasting and meaningful change in the global artistic and human communities.
I have known Mary Mitchell Campbell for ten years through the music theater business and not only have I been blessed with her love of music through collaboration, but her passion for helping out those less fortunate than her is infectious. She is always brainstorming about better ways to harness the time and energy of those who want to reach out but don't know where to start. I was honored to have been asked to perform a benefit concert of my original songs with the other cast members of the Broadway Revival, Company, with all of the profits donated to ASTEP. ASTEP is the focus of her energies and has inspired many people to follow the example of helping those in need. It is a success story that will continue to thrive and motivate volunteers and benefactors for years to come.
This organization and services they provide are AMAZING! I've been a volunteer,a participant, as well as a facilitator for their program in south florida. It is a program that helpsyou learn not just about all the different art forms but about yourself and your potential to be someone successful in life. My favortie part about this experience is looking back on the progress I've made. I came from "tagging" school property to studying Vangogh. I couldn't imagine the world of trouble I'd be in now without their help and support.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to participate in a handful of performances that raised money for ASTEP. I performed as a musician onstage with several fantastic musicians, all leaders in the broadway orchestra community. Each performance was at a venue that held over 100 people, but each time the place was packed, and several thousands of dollars were raised each night. I'm also fortunate to know Mary-Mitchell Campbell, ASTEP's founder. I know personally that she gives generously from her busy and demanding schedule to not only set up the fundraising events, but to travel to poverty-stricken parts of the world where ASTEP's profits are disbursed into communities. ASTEP is an efficiently-run nonprofit organization that engages all kinds of highly talented people to raise money for poor communities. And it directly oversees how those funds are donated. Please help the cause, any effort you make will be well-spent and will enrich the lives of people across the world who really need help from us.
I have been a volunteer at the Shanti Bhavan Residential for poor children in Souther India where ASTEP volunteers regularly come. I have had three volunteering periods at this school (Jan to end April for the years 2007, 2007 and 2009). During each of these four month periods, I have had the pleasure and honor to work with, support, or simply enjoy the ASTEP volunteers who were there during these times. I had heard about ASTEP volunteers, especially from the kids at school who always have great stories to tell about them and who are always anxiously awaiting new ASTEP volunteers to show up. In my mind, academics naturally take front stage at any school. However, immediately behind is the kind of work that ASTEP does. Their approach with the kids allow the kids to develop their creativity, musical talents, dance skills, etc. The ASTEP volunteers bring to Shanti Bhavan what no regular teacher, however skilled he or she might be, can bring. ASTEPers bring out the best in the kids. I have seen otherwise shy, reserved and timid kids litterally "break out" of their shell and perform in public. I have seen kids express themselves orally, or through other forms of artistic expression, where under normal circumstances they would have kept their thoughts and impressions to themselves. ASTEPers bring to this school a level of education which, in my mind, very very few other schools in India, or for that matter the world, offers its students. ASTEPers interact with kids of all ages, and this is a great part of their contibution. No one is left aside, whether he or she is not (initially) talented, too young, or apparently disinterested. The ASTEP contribution to the evolution and eduction of the kids of Shanti Bhavan is beyond what one could expect. They teach the kids respect, involvement, contribution, interaction, and bring out the best in their character and personality. I have had great rapport with all the volunteers from ASTEP with whom I have had the pleasure to interact. They are dedicated, resourceful, involved, and above all, they totally enjoy what they do. The smiles from the kids and their yearning to want always more (rehearsals, practices, courses, direction, coaching, etc.) is a testament to the effectiveness of the ASTEP volunteers and their love for what they do. These great people and Mary Mitchell Campbell who directs the organization merit all the support and kudos which they so richly deserve. Jacques Lafortune Montreal Canada
ASTEP is an incredible organization that not only positively impacts its recipients, but also positively impacts its volunteers. I performed at an ASTEP benefit and was thrilled for the experience of working alongside my peers in the Broadway community. The night in and of itself was a treat ... the fact that the performance benefited such a worthwhile cause was the cake ... the thrill of being part of such an outstanding cast of volunteers was the icing. The organization is supported by artists who want to SHARE their art and enable others' artistic dreams to thrive. It is an honor to donate my time, money, and support to ASTEP.
If you're a performer and you want to make a difference, ASTEP is a perfect outlet. They have an incredible supportive staff and wonderful programs in the US and abroad. I volunteer in New York City to help children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. I come home every evening from the school and really feel like I've helped some kids who really need love and support.
Every now and then an organization comes along that speaks to your very core, ASTEP is such an organization. It's mission is selfless and touches the lives of many. I am always amazed at how passionately artists are about helping others and creating a safer and healthier environment for the many in need. The powers behind ASTEP are of supreme integrity and honor. May it continue to grow, flourish and improve our world