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The arts and volunteerism – a win-win

Amber Grubb

Amber Grubb

If I had a nickel for every time someone said they didn’t have a creative bone in their body, I would be…not a starving artist, but a fat and happy one.

The truth is, every person is equipped with a brain that, when stimulated, is capable of inspiration, innovation, and production. Associating and volunteering with creative people is a catalyst for such stimulation. In this regard, August was rich with activity, thanks in part to the Boise Young Professionals’ “b | artistic” month.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, an army of volunteers convened on the corner of Eighth and Main streets in downtown Boise. BYP partnered with the Idaho Food Bank, the Boise Department of Arts and History, Wirestone, Home Depot, Hewlett-Packard Co. and other generous sponsors to create a hard-to-miss mural that communicates a stirring message to passersby: hunger affects everyone.

The following weekend, Curb Cup 2 descended upon downtown Boise. Though we could not rival the performers in song and dance, you’d better believe that volunteering for this “street circus of creativity” was a vicarious way for us to take part in the action – even while guarding traffic and handing out tokens.

Yet another volunteer opportunity drew a group of BYP members to the Idaho Shakespeare Festival. Collecting trash, cleaning tables and gathering chairs may not seem to be the most glamorous way to spend a Friday night, but the camaraderie among the volunteers was truly memorable. It was also immensely gratifying to hear the producing artistic director publicly express his appreciation for our hard work (and watching The Woman in Black as the sun set was nothing less than extraordinary).

Ask any arts organization: volunteers are integral to their success. So I’d like to propose a challenge. Find a group that interests you and get involved. Do you enjoy working with kids? It’s no secret that arts funding is at an all-time low, especially in our school system. So why not support local organizations – such as TrICA and the Boise Rock School – that are teaching our children how to make movies and play guitar? The experience can change their lives – and yours.

Interested in literature? Offer to help out at the Log Cabin Literary Center. Have a love of dance? The Idaho Dance Theatre depends heavily upon its volunteers. Many other arts groups would appreciate additional resources; contact the Boise Department of Arts and History for a complete list.

If it’s been a while since you have been involved, consider what you might be missing. Volunteers make connections with generous, driven and creative people. They also provide an invaluable service for our community. When you are willing to work on behalf of others, without pay or tangible gain, your philanthropic efforts enrich others’ lives and your own. And you don’t need to be an artist, dancer or poet to be useful. After all, as the old adage says, “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”

This column was written by Amber Grubb, a member of Boise Young Professionals, a writer and an arts advocate who enjoys waving her volunteer flag high. She currently teaches creativity workshops at Boise’s Women’s and Children’s Alliance and volunteers her time at local arts events.

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