Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Inspiration for Week 3

Last year, I wrote an inspirational email a week to raise money for Pyramid Atlantic, an art center that builds communities through papermaking, printmaking and book arts. The money raised helped fund 69 art classes and workshops, 50 internships, studios for 419 artists and events for 7,539 people of all ages at Pyramid. This year, I am going to raise 1,000,000 pennies ($10,000) and I am inviting you to help me.

Two weeks are in the books. I have raised 76,000 pennies (or $760) with your help on my road to raising 1,000,000 pennies (or $10,000) for Pyramid Atlantic. Thank you to all who have contributed to date! This is such a ride. Here is a picture of me shaking pennies that were contributed by Ms Carol Hurtt out of a bottle.

Here is your weekly dose of inspiration:

I was trained as an actor. I run Pyramid Atlantic, so many folks ask me if I am a printmaker and I am not. I moved to New York City after college in 1992 to work as an actor. I acted in plays, wrote a play, had a few bit parts on soap operas, did a couple of commercials and of course, waited tables. I went to graduate school at New York University and after I graduated got an agent. In 1997, I was going out on audition after audition and I needed something more to keep myself satisfied. So I auditioned for an educational theatre company called the Creative Arts Team and was hired.

I traveled all 5 boroughs and performed for children in Pre-K through 3rd grade in plays that promoted literacy and problem solving. I also started volunteering at a place called the 52nd Street Project. The 52nd Street Project is a theatre company that matches inner city kids with professional artists to make theatre. I worked their with Jaysunn Rosado and Ray Ocasio. Jaysunn was ten when he and I wrote a play that in many ways was about the family that Jaysunn wished he had and for me about the kind of father that I someday wanted to be. Ray was 15 when he and I wrote and acted in a show together. It was about a man who meets another man and wants his life so bad, that he kills him and assumes his identity. The man's son comes back years later to avenge his father's murder and finds happiness after he has forgiven his father's killer and is accepted into the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

I had the time of my life working with the the Creative Arts Team and the 52nd Street Project. I never felt more at home, more "in the zone" and more complete. I truly felt like I had finally found my artistic home. So one day, I decided that I was not going to go out an audition for a year, unless the project could make me feel as happy as I felt when I was working with the Creative Arts Team or The 52nd Street project. I would know in a year if I made the right decision because I would either feel incredibly happy or incredibly depressed. Over that year, a few acting jobs came up, but the opportunity could never match how happy the work I was doing was making me feel. When that year was done I had found my bliss.

I love being the Executive Director of Pyramid and its the same feeling I had when I first stepped onto the stage with the 52nd Street Project or into a classroom with the Creative Arts Team. I feel excited. I feel complete. I feel scared to death. Many days I am not sure if I have the courage, the brains or the spirit to do this job, but everyday someone's kindness and compassion at Pyramid assures me that I have got what it takes and I am right where I am supposed to be. I am so lucky to be a part of something greater than myself. The work we do with people of all ages and all artistic abilities makes ripple in their lives. It is my hope that these ripples one day lead the lives of the many people we come into contact with at Pyramid towards their own bliss. I have found mine and think its my responsibility to help others find theirs.

I hope I inspired you to join my campaign today. Its easy:
If all this penny stuff is too complicated and you just want to make a contribution, you can donate in any form of currency to Pyramid Atlantic by clicking here. I will add up your donation in pennies and include it in my campaign.

Join me this Sunday the 19th for a free book arts workshop at 9 am with my friends at Kefa Cafe in Silver Spring. We will make a special Silver Spring themed book and enjoy their amazing coffee. Bring your pennies and I will take them to Eagle Bank.

I promise to write to inspire you and not quit until I do.

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