My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for L M Alcott Art Center Foundation, Kansas City, KS, USA
My Name is Chuck Green. I am proud to say that I am one of the co-founders and current President of the Board of Directors of the L. M. Alcott Art Center Foundation. It gives my life purpose. My wife and I have been involved with this organization even before it was an organization. Here's our story.
The L.M. Alcott Art Center or Alcott Arts Center as most know us was started in an effort to save a neighborhood school (Our building first opened in 1923 as the Louisa May Alcott Grade School, serving the Kansas City, Kansas public school system in that capacity until 1976 after which it was used as an Alternative High School and Curriculum Building) from becoming a minimum-security prison in 1999 in our mostly residential area. At the time our area was troubled with old abandoned truck stop buildings across the street from our school building and a less than desirable motel that rented rooms 15 minutes at a time.
Our community needed some hope! The founders (a group of local neighbors who lived close to the building and some other local business people) were given an opportunity to help create a positive environment in our own neighborhood. The Board of Education agreed to sell the building to an area NBR, the Central Avenue Betterment Association in that effort to bring about a positive change. This group had the building a little over a year when the original neighborhood people who petitioned the BOE to stop the sell to the prison were called upon to come back and help define a direction for this historic old school building.
We joined in and organized a fact finding committee to make sure that what ever was in the school would be something positive, that it would benefit a large variety of people and bring opportunities to the local KCK area, as well as preserve and restore our wonderful historic old building. Our committee, after a few months of searching for the best solution decided on the concept of something different for our area altogether, an Arts Center.
The Alcott Arts Center was designated as an all Arts facility in October of 2001.
The Central Avenue Betterment Association in early 2002 decided to sell the building to the Alcott steering committee (under the condition that the committee become a Kansas not for profit charity) and move back to the Central Avenue area. The committee filed for state not for profit incorporation with the help of one of Alcott’s past alumna’s and the attorney she worked for helped us file and receive not for profit status (approved in March of 2002) and has been know formally as the L.M. Alcott Art Center Foundation ever since.
LMAACF is a non-profit 501(c)(3), 509(a)(2) Public Charity dedicated to the appreciation, understanding, and production of the arts, with an emphasis on exploring and sharing the cultural diversity within our community.
We have been in existence now for twelve years as an Arts Organization. We have awarded grants and scholarships, taught classes and workshops in several areas of the Arts, curated over three hundred Art Exhibits in the three Alcott Galleries, produced several plays at the Alcott including an annual Shakespeare in the Parking Lot series of plays and have provided space for other Arts organizations to rehearse and produce and perform in the Alcott Theater. We have partnered with several groups at public functions and have even been involved with national Arts programs including the National Endowment of the Arts' "the Big Read" program. We make sure that everyone has the opportunity to participate regardless of social or financial status.
Alcott has become a regional Arts Organization due to interaction with artists, actors, teachers, filmmakers, poets, musicians and many other artistic and down right good people from all over the area and beyond.
It has been a unique challenge to start something from scratch (without any experience in this field) but it has been a great experience to be thrown into the world of the Arts in an endeavor to help save a community.
Our biggest drawback is that we have a building without a working heat source. We close at the end of October each year right after our annual Halloween Trick or Treat event for all of the area children, and we open back up at the beginning of March. If we were open year round we would thrive!
Thanks to all of the positive reviews from friends in the past Alcott was within the top thirty top rated not for profits organizations listed on this website (great nonprofits.org) in 2011.
The area around the Alcott Arts Center has since changed from the old scary rundown place to something we can all be proud of. The city has given much needed attention to the blight and brought economic redevelopment our way. The run down truck stop buildings and motel are gone, replaced by a multi-million dollar retail development. It is nice after enduring years of the looking at the sad state of the community to be able to drive up the street and see people get out of their vehicles and move around the area safely and enjoying the new look.
While we are sure that they did not bring the improvements to the area because of the Alcott Arts Center's existence, we are hopeful that they saw that we were a benefit to the greater community and that if we could make it work here, then they could too.
We are looking forward to a great future knowing that we are making life a little better for some and a lot better for many. There are so many first time artists and performers that have been provided the artistic opportunities through Alcott, which has been one of the biggest blessings.
Maybe, just maybe they will go on to be world renowned Artists in one form or another, and to think it would all have been made possible because people wanted to take ownership of their neighborhood and work hard to make sure something positive happened there.
Oh and by the way not only is The LMAACF self-sustaining but it has been operated and ran by unpaid/volunteer staff for all of the twelve years in service. There have been well over 40,500 hours of donated time given to this unique organization.
We have dedicated the past thirteen years of our lives to help make sure that Alcott continues to serve the greater community for another 90 years (hopefully more) and help bring a Positive Cultural Arts environment to the Kansas City, Kansas area.
My personnel history with the building goes back to my childhood. I went to grade school in this great old school building back in the 1960's, as did all of my siblings and my mother and her siblings back in the late 1920's, 30’s and 40’s.
When the school was put up for sale it had been vacant for a few years with over a hundred broken windows, which had been boarded up. It looked terrible and unfortunately fit right in with the area across the street. We (the neighborhood people) actually helped organized a neighborhood watch group (ironically named the Concerned Citizens Committee of Kansas City, Kansas) back in the 1990's after many issues with drug dealers and a hooker that tried to climb in the cab of my pick-up truck with me and my two young daughters.
It was at that point that we realized that if anyone was to make things in our community better, it had to start with the people most affected by the downturn, the neighbors.
As you have read things are much better these days but it has been a long journey.
I have been proud to have Great Nonprofits give Alcott this platform for exposure.
Everyone has had good things to say about the Alcott save one.
A couple of years ago some anonymously wrote a scathing review that I was floored by when I read it. I wasn't sure how to respond to something that volatile.
It wasn't so much an attack on the Alcott I guess, as it was more of an attack on me and my wife Chris.
If you read the other reviews on the Alcott part of this site, as I hope you will. You will see the negative review by a very hurtful and of course anonymous reviewer. It referred to an article in the Kansas City Star that was done about Alcott back in 2011.
Just to clarify my position with Alcott and life as a disabled person.
I have never been paid a single penny nor received any compensation from the L. M. Alcott Art Center Foundation/ Alcott Arts Center.
First off, I am a retired/disabled Journeyman Electrical Lineman and was injured in a fall while climbing a power pole in 1989 on my birthday; this was unfortunately an injury that has lead to lumbar spinal fusion with irreversible spinal cord damage resulting in what they call spinal arachnoiditis. In 1993 I suffered from acute shingles attack in my eye’s and across the right side of my head, unfortunately it is something that affects me to this day with severe nerve damage to my eyes, hearing and facial area over the years. The last diagnosis of my spine in 2005 was that I needed emergency surgery because the disk above the lumbar fusion was totally gone and the vertebra were grinding against each other splintering out into my spinal cord. The doctor told me at that point that he could do the lumbar surgery to fix me but that there was a 80 percent chance that he would paralyze or kill me in the process. I opted not to have that surgery.
I was also diagnosed at that time with herniated disks in my cervical spine from an injury in 2003 which required emergency surgery to fuse the vertebra together in an attempt to keep me from becoming paralyzed.
I haven’t been able to work for several years due to incredible pain associated with the damage and what I do for Alcott is the only things I do for anyone, including myself. It is a challenge to do anything physical and mentally, but Alcott is my therapy. I am not depressed because I have lost my livelihood (while I am not happy about it); I don’t see a shrink and do not take anti-depression medicine. Don’t drink nor do drugs and I try to be the best person I can be. All because Alcott distracts me from my life as a person who has lost almost all of the basic abilities to live and enjoy life as a mobile person.
I had to make a conscious decision many years ago, that if I’m going to hurt my body any worse it would be doing things for Alcott. I don’t often mow but if I have to I get on the zero radius mower, I chug along at a severely reduced speed in order keep from crying out in pain when hitting the smallest of bumps. I get up and talk to people for a few minutes here and there because there may not be someone else that is available to speak. I’m proud to do it but it comes at a price, as it is hard to talk and be able to understand what I am saying due to the nerve damage to my ears. I believe that Alcott actually helps keep me from sitting or lying around all of the time, thus keeping my muscles from deteriorating any more than they already have. We have always done our best to make sure that Alcott is a place of integrity and one that gives back more than it is given.
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
If there were any changes I would like to see a new boiler installed so that the Center could stay open year round. I would also like to see more involvement from historically minded people that want to help preserve our areas cultural heritage.
Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?
How much of an impact do you think this organization has?
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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?