Our final blog for 2011 celebrated a remarkable artist who was inspired to bring art back into a school in her community. Her project centered around Martin Luther King’s call to all of us to serve our communities. Our hope with every blog is that you will be inspired to reach out in your own communities and carry the torch that your fellow artists keep lit each time they go beyond themselves and use their art for a greater good.
Jim Lepage ended 2011 with an incredible feat that we hope will spark a fire of change in all of you. He participated in a capital campaign called “Making Space.” The campaign was organized by Woodland Hills Church in St. Paul, MN. The goal was to raise money to expand their food shelf and make building renovations that would continue to help serve as an overnight shelter for people without homes. Jim saw this as a great opportunity to become directly involved in his community – and what better way to do this than to offer 100% of proceeds from your art sales to the cause?
At the end of November, my church launched a fundraiser to help low-income and homeless folks in St. Paul, MN, where I live. At the same time, I’d been gearing up for print sales in December since that’s when the Christmas rush happens. The second I had the thought about donating my December proceeds, I knew I had to do it. Honestly, I was a little afraid it might bomb and I’d look like an idiot, but fortunately, folks seemed to get excited about it and I was able to surpass my goal. My goal was to raise $600; I raised $1000. Woodland Hill’s goal was to raise $26,000; they raised over $100,000! The whole experience was very encouraging and inspiring. – Jim LePage
Homelessness is not something we spend a lot of time thinking about as we go about our daily lives, unless we have to. If you have never experienced financial turmoil in your own life, chances are you know someone who has. The truth is, it can happen to any one of us in the blink of an eye. It is humbling to imagine how one actually becomes homeless. Incredible, heartbreaking stories exist behind each person that we walk or drive past on our streets. When we consider these stories, it makes the success of Jim’s campaign even more heartwarming.
We are proud of Jim’s success and commend him on his selfless and admirable determination to seek out ways his art can help others. We know that many of you are already using your art to make a difference in your communities and we encourage you to continue.
It is fitting that January is the month we celebrate MLK Day and watch organizations all over the country honor his memory by participating in this National Day of Service. In his reflection, Jim makes an excellent and honest statement about his fear that his project would not succeed. I think we can all agree that it is the courage to overcome that fear that makes serving our communities so rewarding. As Martin Luther King said, “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Happy MLK month and Happy New Year! Let this be a Year of Service for all of us!