The Social Diary ~
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Founder Nominated for 'Volvo for Life Award'
The Social Diary ARTS' Columnist Jill
Column #4, February 28th, 2006
D'Arrigo, the founder and executive director of ARTS (A Reason
to Survive) has been nominated for a prestigious Volvo For Life
Award. For several years, Volvo has looked for "everyday
heroes," those people who display courage, dedication, and
are committed to helping others.
judges that review each and every nomination are an amazing, noteworthy
group: Hank Aaron, Senator Bill Bradley, Sir Richard Branson,
Caroline Kennedy, Val Kilmer, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Dr. Sally
Ride, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Hope Bevilhymer,
the 3rd Volvo for Life Grand Award winner.
Grand Award winner is chosen, who receives a Volvo automobile
for life, plus $50,000 to a charity of choice, a trip to the New
York City Awards Ceremony for themselves and a guest, and a starring
role in a Volvo for Life Awards heroes documentary. Other prizes
are awarded to three Category Winners, six Category Finalists,
and 100 receive Certificates of Merit.
was nominated for his sacrifices, his vision, and his caring.
Here is his story (you can see more on
1992, doctors diagnosed nineteen-year-old Matt D'Arrigo's mother
and sister with cancer within a month of each other. Matt took
the following year off of college to stay at home and help with
their care. Matt's mother died, but his sister recovered. As an
artist, Matt found himself turning to his painting and love of
music to help him through this difficult time. The
therapeutic and healing power of the arts affected Matt so profoundly
that he wanted to provide that same opportunity to others -- particularly
children. He vowed to start an organization one
day in his mother's memory to provide free art programs to children
in need. That inspiration would become his initiative, A
Reason To Survive (ARTS).
returned to school to earn his degree in fine art, entering the
workforce to gain some valuable business experience before he
launched his effort. In July 2001, Matt traded in his beloved
SUV for an old station wagon, cashed out his 401K, and then founded
his non-profit organization. ARTS provides free visual, performing,
and literary art programs to disadvantaged children and those
facing adversity. Through Matt's tireless efforts in raising community
awareness and funds for his programs, ARTS has a $450,000 budget,
four full-time staff, and serves 3,500 children annually with
free art programs. Matt has accomplished all of this in just four
short years! ARTS provides outreach programs throughout the community,
sending 45 trained artist volunteers into twelve partner locations,
including hospitals, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters,
group homes, military bases, and the like on a weekly basis. ARTS
also hosts numerous community art events and creates public art
pieces with neighborhood children to help beautify parks, community
centers, and partner locations. In July of 2006, ARTS will open
their first dedicated center, a 6,200 square foot facility to
provide in-house programs, camps, and workshops for children and
families in San Diego. Matt has recently secured $500,000 of ARTS'
$1,000,000 goal to create the ARTS Center! Unbelievable!!
visionary approach not only provides free art
programs to thousands of hurting kids and their families, but
also goes beyond what one would consider his "regular"
job. Recently, an ARTS youngster, Yesenia, lay near death
with a terminal illness at Children's Hospital and San Diego Hospice.
One day, while painting images of horses with Matt, she confided
that she would love to ride a horse, as she had never before done
so. Fortunately, one of ARTS most loyal donors owns some horses.
A couple of phone calls placed by Matt, and a few days later,
a truck and horse trailer pulled up to the San Diego Hospice.
A beautiful brown horse named Cinnamon came walking out. The staff
wheeled out Yesenia, who spent a quiet, poignant hour petting
and feeding the horse carrots, all the while lying in her bed.
Yesenia gathered enough strength to actually get up and sit on
the horse; her dream came true! Sadly, Yesenia passed away shortly
thereafter. But Matt and his organization ensured that she would
experience one of the wonders so many of us take for granted.
Realizing that Yesenia's family did not have enough money to pay
for her funeral, Matt then created wonderful greeting cards from
one of her many paintings. Sales of the cards raised the necessary
$4,600 to pay for her funeral expenses. This is just one of many
examples of Matt's huge, giving heart!
does not view the arts as a career or even a craft, but rather
a force for life. His dedication to ARTS brings his vision to
life, and it has become his life as well. Matt has made numerous
personal sacrifices to ensure the success of the organization
so that the young receive the arts programs they desperately need.
His mission gives something in addition to ensuring the quality
of life for these children and families. Matt D'Arrigo's work
shows that that in all we do, aspire to, and give of ourselves,
we bring meaning to our lives and those around us through the
arts of giving.
learn more about Matt and his cause, and how you can make a difference,
please visit: www.artsurvive.org
Jill Hammons is a long-time special events director at
Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She divides her time amongst
many charitable organizations such as The Hole in the
Wall Gang Camp, Passionfish, and ARTS (A Reason to Survive).
Jill is a Founding Board Member of ARTS, an up-and-coming San
Diego non-profit that provides free artistic opportunities to
kids in facing adversities. ARTS helps children heal through the
therapeutic and transformative powers of the arts---giving them
a reason to survive." www.artsurvive.org.
to New this Week.........Jill
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