I have had the pleasure of knowing Mary Mitchell before she even began ASTEP and it is amazing to see her vision of many years become a reality. So many of my peers have been changed by the volunteer work they have done around the globe through ASTEP and I am proud to have done fundraising to keep the cause alive. It was Mary's outcry that there was real progress being made in healing the poorest of the poor through the arts,along with the evidence to proove it, that made me reach out to my fellow cast & crew at Wicked and sponsor a child to keep the program she started going. And I also have had the pleasure of working with Mary herself with refugee children trying to assimilate in the US for the first time and she has a gift. Kids from various countries, none of which spoke English as their first language (and some, not at all)still managed to relate to one another through music and the work that Mary did with them. It was extraordinary.ASTEP is one of the best not-for-profits I've ever had the pleasure of working with and I absolutely think deserves this award.
My interest in ASTEP came through my experience with the founder Mary-Mitchell. Over the years that I have known her I have been extremely impressed by her caring, intelligence and ability to rally and inspire her staff, the volunteers and her children. Her love and caring for children is unmatched. Mary-Mitchell is not only compassionate but smart about how to get work done she uses all her remarkable skills to bring people together so that all benefit. ASTEP is an organization that is constantly refining and learning from every experience, as a result that have created a solid base and platform to work from. Last Christmas I attended ASTEP's holiday Fund raiser. It was a great evening and a rare opportunity to see so much talent in one room. I was quite touched by their unselfish giving of their time to support ASTEP. As I am writng I am also remembering a conversation I had with two ASTEP volunteers after they came back from a month in India. They shared story after of their unique and life changing experience with the children.
ASTEP has been a great charity to work with- helping them gives me a real sense that I'm doing something that will have a huge positive effect for someone in India, South Africa, or New York. I've sponsored a child from their Shanti Bhavan orphanage in India for the past two years. I received the girl's story (her name is Jeevitha) and then was sent a picture of her holding a sign thanking me for the sponsorship. It was so heartwarming and I got to see exactly what I was helping to do, which was give this six year old from the lowest caste an opportunity to have an education, home, and reach her goal of becoming a local government official when she grows up. Mary-Mitchell, the head of the organization, is delightful and such a hard-working individual that I know ASTEP is being run at the highest precedent.
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.
This organization goes into places too often forgotten. It brings education, health and nutritional services, through, and with,an emphasis on artistic expression. A modality not only enjoyable, but necessary for encouraging communication and non-linear thinking.