Happy Season of Light!
(download a pdf of the annual letter here: 2019 Annual Letter)
Thanks to your generous contributions over the years, Art from Ashes has been able to touch the lives of 14,000 youth, allowing them to recognize their value and their creative genius. That means 14,000 young people had at least two adults tell them their voice is important and their story is their own, defined by no one else. It means that 14,000 citizens and future leaders are walking around right now with the knowledge that they matter, they are not alone, and that they have the power to change the world.
Our country, and in particular Denver, is growing and changing rapidly. We see shadows of the way it used to be, and it seems like one week an old staple is occupying four walls and the next, gone. In times of change, it can be difficult to remember what community means. What can we rely on to give us a sense of stability? How can we maintain a connection to our community?
You as a contributor, our volunteers, our facilitators, our staff, and most importantly the youth who show up to our workshops and events are the community of Art from Ashes. We are a group of people who value the experiences, ideas, and hopes of young people. Whether you’re new to Denver or you’ve moved halfway across the world—no matter how near or how far—you are still a part of this community because of those values.
Communities thrive and grow when they are supported from within by individuals like you. When you spend money at a local shop, you’re supporting your neighbor. When you spend time sitting on your front stoop and saying hello to your neighbors, you’re creating a culture of trust and safety. When you volunteer in your neighborhood or go to a town hall, you’re contributing to the life of your community. At this time of year, when giving and gratitude are at the forefront, we ask that you choose to invest in your AfA community with a financial contribution. Because when you invest in Art from Ashes, you are investing in the youth. We are consistently astonished by the beauty and eloquence that come from our youth poets and by their ability and willingness to be vulnerable with one another and with us. Our young people are generous with their creativity and conviction. We ask that you be generous in your support of them.
We recently posed the question “Why do you love Art from Ashes?” on our Art from Ashes Facebook page and were especially delighted with some of the responses:
Kumi Avila AfA Saved my life. They helped me grow and transform. They truly empowered me.
Ray Arterburn ‘Cause y’all are awesome! When I was trying to figure out myself I found this loving and understanding place that helps young people like me find their voice.
Brice Maiurro Because I’ve seen young poets develop into some of the most incredible and influential poets I’ve seen. To give folks at such a crucial point in life a sense of purpose is an important mission.
Nate Ragolia You help young people capture their voices, and having a voice in this world is the greatest empowerment!
Your gifts have not only helped us keep our workshops free for youth and supplement partnerships with schools and youth-serving agencies, but they also made it possible for us to reach more young people in the community with the power of creative expression and personal transformation. Because of you, we were able to complete and launch the Drawing on Air curriculum and by year’s end will have provided 50 weekly youth empowerment workshops this year using visual arts media. We were able to work with 1,358 youth so far this year! We renewed contracts with 11 ongoing partners and established nine new partnerships. Art from Ashes youth were invited to perform before the Denver Pops Orchestra concert, at the Central City Poetry Festival at the Teller Opera house, and we were invited to provide information about AfA at the Cavetown concert at The Ogden! This year we were featured on both Colorado and Company and 9News. We would not have been able to accomplish any of this without your generous support.
You have made it possible for us to beat the odds and thrive for 16 years, and we need your support once again as we reach out to more youth in 2020.
Here’s why: Perhaps you, too, can think of a time when the world seemed to have turned against you, and those you trusted betrayed you. Remember when you tried your hardest and still lost? This is the pain and hopelessness so many of the young people we serve live every day of their lives. Art from Ashes chooses to stand with them and for them in their despair. We have always believed that if we valued their lives, they would and could learn to value their lives, as well.
All battles are fought in the heart. And there is something we all can do to support that win in our young people—practical, real, love-in-action support.
Perhaps when you were at a loss you had friends, family members and neighbors help pay medical bills, make meals, clean your toilet, walk your pets, take out your trash… Perhaps during a time of need, you have received care packages or funny cards and letters of hope. When a young person is hanging on by a thread and can see no way to go on, Art from Ashes is that friend, and you, too, can be that friend when you join us. We stand alongside young people and provide the means for them to see that their life is valuable and that each breath is a celebration of light. We do this by revealing the transformative power of their own creative spirit.
When young people feel like giving up, we hope to provide the tools so they can imagine a future of love and peace. When they feel worthless, we are the friend who holds up a mirror and says, “You are beautiful in my eyes”… Now you say it. Can you see your own beauty? Hear it. Write it. Speak it. Draw it. Create a path to not only survival but joy with these pastels and this prompt given by someone who will hold space for you in your pain. Laugh through a poem and cry with another person who may have suffered the same thing you yourself have overcome.
This is Art from Ashes—joy, light and hope for youth. And the “standing alongside” you do may not involve volunteer time or facilitation. Maybe it is $10 or $20. Maybe even $1,000, depending on how you want to help. Either way, you are the friend in the story who gave hope to someone hanging on by their fingernails trying to survive the pain. You can be the one who heals. What better way to celebrate this season of light?
Will you make a donation to Art from Ashes in support of creative transformation for struggling youth?
Here’s what your donation provides:
If your employer matches your donation, please let us know!
- Your gift of $50 provides an honorarium for a guest poet or artist to inspire and motivate the young people in our workshops. (We pay artists!) click here
- We spend more than $1000 a year providing stipends to youth who perform their poetry for the community! Any amount you designate can support that goal: click here
- We believe in healthy food and LOTS of water. Your donation of $50 will provide enough of both for one 2-hour workshop for up to 20 young people! How many workshops would you like to support?: click here
- A monthly gift of $100 will support a year’s worth of workshops for one struggling youth.
- A one-time gift of $5000 will provide the cost of an 8-workshop program for 20 youth ($15/hr. per youth), which would include all operating costs and program expenses: click here
- Of course, we would very much appreciate any amount! Please designate an amount and mail a check or donate via Paypal, if you have an account (AfA gets 100% of your donation!) or via Colorado Gives.
We hope to see you at our annual Celebration of Light on Colorado Gives Day!
Not only are we celebrating 16 years of service to our community with volunteers, board members, partners, funders, sponsors, poets, artists, and youth, but all donations on Dec 10th are increased because of a generous incentive fund from Community First Foundation and FirstBank! You can schedule your donation now, if you’re unable to join us on the Big Day: click here