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2018 Holiday Letter

Hopefully you can join us for the holiday party on the 4th (invitation below)!

Meanwhile, here’s what we have to share during this wonderful season of light:

(read the pdf of our 2018-Annual Request Letter or read text below)

Happy Holidays from Kumi!  

My name is Kumi, and I am 18 years old. This holiday season, I’d like to share my story of transformation with you.

Before Art from Ashes, I was just an empty shell named Kumi, and I had a degree in making bad decisions. Now I’m getting a different kind of degree at CCD, thanks in large part to Art from Ashes! 

I was full of creativity, hidden behind a door barred shut by my enemy Bipolar Disorder. I was frustrated, depressed, ecstatic, and powerless. Imagine trying to defeat a monster with only a bottle of pills, the wrong kind of friends, and bad love relationships. Doesn’t make much sense, right? 

But then Art from Ashes came to our Creative Writing class at Endeavor Academy. I was so excited about how easy it was to let out my creativity in the form of poetry. I didn’t really ever do much poetry before, so it was new and interesting…and soon it became my favorite thing to do. 

I finally had something new to fight my monster with and you better believe I felt empowered! I felt strong with my new weapon and confident in my new skills. I learned the power of my voice as I read my poetry to the people willing to listen, and I learned how to conquer my fears. And with Art from Ashes, I learned to help empower others, as well.

Art from Ashes was able to come to Endeavor Academy because of generous donations from community members just like you. I’d like to thank you for your support and ask that you please consider financially supporting Art from Ashes this holiday season so that more youth can experience empowerment and transformation through art and poetry.

—Kumi Avila, Youth Representative to the Art from Ashes Board of Directors

Here’s what your generous donation provides:

  • At Art from Ashes, we believe in paying artists! Your donation of $50 provides an honorarium for a guest poet or artist to inspire and motivate the young people in our workshops.
  • We spend more than $1000 a year providing an honorarium to youth who perform their poetry for the community! Any amount you designate can support that goal!
  • We believe in healthy food and LOTS of water for youth. Your donation of $50 will provide enough food and water for one 2-hour workshop for up to 20 young people! How many workshops would you like to support?
  • A monthly donation of $100 will provide writing and art materials for four of our weekly drop-in workshops, held every Wednesday (Phoenix Rising) and Thursday (Drawing on Air Creative Time).
  • A one-time gift of $2000 will support a year’s worth of weekly workshops for a 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 operating costs as well as program expenses.
  • Of course, we would very much appreciate any amount you’re willing to donate!

Does your employer match your donation? Please let us know!

And we hope you’ll come to our Annual Celebration of Light Party on Colorado Gives Day, Dec 4th from 7 to 9 pm at Art from Ashes, 1310 west 10th ave, denver


Happy Season of Light from the board and staff of AfA! 

We hope you enjoyed Kumi’s powerful story of transformation. Stories like Kumi’s, and the stories we’ve heard from countless other young people over the years, remind us why we exist and inspire us to continue this important work. Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4th—a day that allows our generous donors to contribute towards that beautiful goal. During that 24-hour period your donation counts more than any other time.

Speaking of years…on October 10, Art from Ashes celebrated its 15th anniversary! That’s 15 years of young people discovering their creative genius through our unique and innovative programs. At Art from Ashes, we believe that by discovering their creativity, young people are empowered through art and poetry to find their voice, change their stories, and transform their lives. And as numerous studies and our own surveys have shown, it works.

In 2018, Art from Ashes experienced a few transformations as well:

  • AfA won the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture! This prestigious award is given to organizations that make significant and lasting contributions in the City and County of Denver. What a great way to celebrate our 15th anniversary!
  • AfA merged with Violet Hive’s Art As Healing youth program, a nonprofit organization that shares our belief that art facilitates empowerment and healing. Founder of Violet Hive, Amy Leiter, joined the AfA staff; Bridget Hofstadter of Violet Hive is now our volunteer coordinator; and both are trained Phoenix Rising facilitators who have expanded our weekly Creative Time drop-in workshops!
  • Our programs and the work we do with youth in the community were highlighted on CBS4 and Fox Network, helping to send our message of hope and transformation to thousands of people.
  • AfA hosted and facilitated a workshop for the World Denver Iraqi Youth Delegation.
  • AfA has now partnered with more than 180 organizations to serve nearly 13,000 young people! 

In addition to our ongoing workshops in the community and weekly on-site workshops, young people have shared their stories and their voices at a number of events in 2018. Some of these events include monthly First Friday performances at AfA, the Mercury Café’s 30th Annual Poetry Rodeo, the Youth Voices in Recovery poetry performance, and AfA’s 9th Annual Running of the Gays. Additionally, two of our youth poets were featured at the 2018 Denver Women’s March, where they performed in front of thousands of people! 

Seeing the magic happen in workshops and watching the transformation of both youth and community members during performances and art shows re-ignites our passion for the work we do and leaves us energized for a groundbreaking future:

  • Next year Violet Hive artists and AfA staff will expand the Drawing on Air curriculum, which is built on the foundation of our award-winning Phoenix Rising program.
  • Of our existing trained facilitators, two are professional dancers interested in expanding and facilitating our Wingspan program, which we hope to launch by the end of 2019.

Our programs are magical, but we can’t soar without you. We hope you will help us meet our goal to serve even more youth in 2019. Please consider making a holiday contribution to provide creative empowerment workshops to the young people in our community.

With gratitude and joy,

The Art from Ashes staff, board, facilitators, contractors and volunteers

Catherine O’Neill Thorn, Celeste Seiler, Bridget Hofstadter, Sarah Lanzarotta, Samantha Albala, Savannah Arterburn, Tiffany Bowden, Amy Leiter, Marie Verrett, Carolyn Klier, Lewis Lease, Jessica Jarrard, Susie Martin, Johnnie Thorn, Kumi Avila, plus 63 interns, volunteers, and guest poets/artists!

PS. For those of you who have been supporting, praying for, and thinking of Catherine as she has journeyed through this difficult past year, you can find her medical update on our website here: www.artfromashes.org/category/news

young man reading his poetry

CBS Denver Features Art from Ashes

Art from Ashes youth and executive director were featured on CBS4’s This Morning Show on March 26, 2018

COGivesDay 2017

Colorado Gives Day is December 5th this year, and your donation carries even more weight because of a FirstBank incentive fund. We would love you to consider Art from Ashes youth as the beneficiaries of your generosity.

We’re also having a party at Art from Ashes between 6.30 and 9 pm that evening to celebrate our donors and youth and staff and board and volunteers and… well, everyone who has made AfA possible for the past 14 years!

And if you would rather give early, you can do that, too, by selecting the CO GIVES DAY button when donating.

We could really use the support this year in particular. Please help out with however much you are able! http://bit.ly/afacogivesday

AND as usual, we’re having out annual AfA Holiday Party to celebrate Colorado Gives Day! This year it’s at our new location on 10th and Navajo between the hours of 6.30 and 9 pm.

You will be inspired by brilliant Phoenix Rising youth and local poets; music by Joshua Abeyta; & instant poem gifts typed on the spot by Poet Jen Harris. You can enjoy delicious complimentary appetizers and alcoholic (with ID) and non-alcoholic beverages.

Proceeds from the event will be used to support Art from Ashes creative empowerment programs for youth.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends on Tuesday, Dec 5 from 6.30 to 9 pm @ the Art from Ashes home base, 1310 West 10th Ave, Denver.

If you can’t make it to the party, but wish to make a Colorado Gives Day contribution to Art from Ashes, you can do so by scheduling your donation anytime before midnight on Dec. 5th!
Click here —-> http://bit.ly/donateafa

Why Am I Here-Tylan

The thing I don’t know
Is one thing

The Power of Your Support

phoenix-kevinWhat is Success?

Manuel Perez, Age 17

 

What is success?
Is it the big mansion and the shiny sports cars?
Is it the millions in the bank and the shirt and tie?
Or is it finding yourself?
Is it reaching a goal that you long struggled for?
Is it doing what you want without caring about what others will say?
Breaking the barrier of society that wants you to
Walk a fine line without stepping out.
A line set by the followers and not the leaders.
Success is being the owner of your thoughts and values
Which you guard with your sharp sword,
Without letting society push you to fit in.

Think of a time you felt invisible. Maybe you were picked last in gym class, or your input in a  group setting was ignored and overlooked. Think of the power and validation you found when you finally became visible. That feeling is what AfA is about!

When a youth like Manuel writes a poem about success, he isn’t just responding to a prompt. He is sharing a part of himself, a part which deserves to be seen, heard and respected. Whether through a workshop at school or on the streets for First Friday, AfA’s young artists demonstrate the power in finding your voice. At AfA, we remember what it feels like to be picked first, and we watch as youth experience that confirmation for the first time.

But it takes a team, a group to stand together and listen, to acknowledge, empower and show our youth that someone is on their team. If we are going to continue to create space for youth, we need you. Donating money for us to buy notebooks, bring in a guest speaker or fund a workshop is an investment in our youth and the importance of their voice. It shows them that someone is on their team. And as many of us can remember from school or gym class, there is no better feeling.

Our youth have shared a part of themselves with their community, and with you as our supporters and donors. Give back this holiday season, and let them know they are being heard.

If you want to make a real and tangible impact in the lives of Denver youth today, here are some ways you can show our youth how much you believe in them:

  • A one-time gift of $2,000 will support a year’s worth of weekly 2-hour workshops for a struggling young person.
  • A one-time gift of $5,000 will provide the cost of an 8-workshop program for 20 youth ($15/hr. per young person), which would include operating costs as well as program expenses.
  • 12 monthly donations of $100 or a one-time gift of $1,400 provides one-month’s rent (ooh, if 12 people did that…)
  • A one-time gift of $250 allows us to publish the youth poems from one 8-week session.
  • A one-time gift of $100 buys writing materials for two workshops.
  • A one-time donation of $50 allows us to bring a guest poet/artist to one workshop to inspire and encourage the youth in our programs.

Savannah-18

Savannah3-minute poem by Savannah Arterburn

I get that you just want to impress
and not admit that you’re a mess.
I know ‘cause I can see the tears your soul disappears.
Beauty’s pain and beauty’s in everything
but we are just here to learn—
don’t forget to breathe.
If need be lean on me
and don’t forget what makes you, you.
It’s crazy but you don’t have to know exactly who you are
your friends will help with that part.
Feeling unnoticed is how you go
and it hurts ‘cause we all know.
You’re not alone with all your pain
forget the world just whip it all away.
You deserve it ‘cause it’s not about the surface
yes, you’re still perfect and always worth it.
So let me be your mirror so you can see a little clearer.
‘Cause you’re beautiful and you don’t even know.

Chantel – MHYC

PencilPaperPeople take one look at me
And mug me or say something smart
They judge me off of my exterior
Not knowing who I am
And what I’m really about
After getting to know me
I become someone
They will never want to let go

I want to know where I am going to take my children
And how we will get there
I want to know why there are so many
Sick twisted funkin’ nasty ass people
Who hurt others
I want to know why parents bail on their children
I want to know why God hasn’t allowed me to be taken
The many times I could have been
I want to know why I never got to know my father
And why he even left

I am ME!
I am Chantel
I don’t give a fuck about all the he says she say bullshit
Because I am not only a wonderful mother
But I am an awesome parent
I am the future for my children and their children
I am who I want to be
I will not let my past define me
Because I no longer live there
I am here today and will do the best
And give better to my children

Poetry of June 2015

Enjoy some of our favorite poetry from June 2015!

Lyrical Miracle
By Kevin, 17

I am a lyrical miracle
Diving in through my words
Like a swimming pool
A criminal, snatching meanings
And dissecting them to a minimal
I am a scattered brain
That has no pain
And feels no shame
No regrets, place your bets,
Write down my name,
So you don’t forget

Shy
By Jodi, 12

dIMy6GVNKUKL86oLiA0vvtIP9inJ7EdF5DJSa7wcPlE

Drawing on Air artwork by Solomon

Shy wears boring colors
Blending in with the crowd.
Shy lives in a house
Like the others around it.
Shy only talks around the people
She trusts.
Friends, family
Sometimes even pets.
She eats plain food
Nothing too fancy
She wants people to see her
But in a way they move on
After a few seconds
Being the center of attention
Makes her uncomfortable
So she hides whenever she can

Happy
By Jose, 10

Happy would wear regular clothes
A t-shirt, a yellow t-shirt
And pants with sneakers with strings
Happy lives in a house
With small dogs
And toys
Happy works as a baker
Making cakes for birthdays
And cookies

Untitled
By Gabriel, 11

Love is the color of
Red like roses
Cool careful
And loving so it won’t die
Love is never ending

Love is the sound of
Wind chimes wind going
Threw and crystal like sounds

Love taste like warm huggs
In front of the fireplace

Love feels like everyone
In the family cares about you
And it like and oversized
Stuffed teddy bear

Love moves like a
Slow hugging and feeling
Like a million bucks

Untitled
By Jesus, 12

I am a tree poet
I live in the ground
The tree grows seeds first
My poems the roots come out
Of the tree
The rain comes out
Then the branches come out

I am a snow poet
I fall out of the sky with clouds
The snow is white and on the floor
My poems do fall freeze then on
The floor then it gets big and bigger
Until the ground is full of snow

I am a flower poet
I am a flower and the flowers come
Out of a seed
My poem’s a seed
And seeds and water
Grow and the water
Makes flowers grow

I am a grass poet
I need water to grow and dirt
To make roots
My poems are making dirt and water
I need seeds and water
And I need dirt

Untitled
By Matthew, 8

I am a dragon poet
I like dragons and they are cool
And they breath fire
My poems hunt
Fly
Finding
Friend
Riding
Playing
Cool
Be the best dragon

I Seem To Be
By Shada, 16

I seem to be smart
But really I am genius
I seem to be happy
But really I am super duper happy
I seem to be capable
But really I am able to do anything I want

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