By Kerri Warner – Freelance Artist & Inspire Giving Founding Member
In the 1930s, Gertrude Stein famously said of Oakland, California, “there is no ‘there’ there.”
She was the first to put into words how the lack of any special qualities or attributes might make a place unworthy of notice, visiting, or even being aware of.
In 2009 I participated in the Sacramento Metro Chamber’s Leadership Sacramento program. Several members of our class, along with Metro Chamber leadership, formalized a program that we hoped would INSPIRE our community to become more engaged through volunteerism and philanthropy. In 2010 I joined the Inspire Giving Circle as a Founding member. Inspire Giving gives individuals the opportunity to combine their one-time donation with others to create an endowment. Each year, all individuals who have invested in Inspire Giving collaboratively select, via a voting process, how the endowment’s income will be distributed to a charitable organization within the Sacramento region.
Having worked for nonprofits the majority of my career (Executive Director of the Camelia Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Ballet, Hands on Sacramento and the California Conservation Corps Foundation) I knew how valuable volunteers had been to my organizations and how much our community needed a vehicle to encourage individuals and businesses to be more philanthropic. I was thrilled that a small one-time donation could be leveraged into a meaningful grant each year and that I would be able to be a part of regional philanthropy in a way that was not possible as an individual donor. It was not ‘till I received a call from Michael Smith, an executive with Teichert, who asked me to personalize the volunteer construction project for River City Food Bank, that I realized I could also help my community by utilizing my talents as an artist and designer.
Since that first project at River City Food Bank, I have been volunteering each year to help add interesting and quirky designs and artwork to the Inspire Giving projects. In each project, I work with the grantee to create distinctive designs that enhance each facility and convey the mission of the organization. Through artwork, I strive to create a unique identity that will pique the imagination of clients, donors, and passers-by, forming a connection to the organization and the community. I believe that a unique identity and distinctive sense of place will help build each organizations reputation, make them stand out from their competition and project their values while making clients more comfortable and attracting donors.
Through Inspire Giving I’ve had the good fortune to work closely with some amazing organizations who have allowed me to expand my artistic vocabulary and frankly who have allowed me to try out some crazy ideas and techniques. I’m proud to say that the Inspire team has definitely created for each grantee those special qualities and attributes that make sure that there is, in fact, a ‘there’ there.”
Here’s what injecting a bit of artwork into our projects has meant to our grantees:
“When River City Food Bank received the first Inspire Giving Award, we were allowed to essentially create a food bank that would serve our clients much more than healthy, nutritious food. Guided by our core values of “dignity,” “compassion,” “respect,” “nutrition,” and “health,” Kerri encouraged us to put “art” in our signage, our garden containers, our foyer, as well as our waiting area. Bright colors, inspiring portraits, kitties, ceramic mosaics, and re-purposed kitchen utensils are incorporated into all of the areas our clients visit when they arrive at our agency. We know folks come to us to receive food; we feed their bodies in the hopes we can sustain them and improve their physical health. But physical health is only one part of being human. The art at our facility also feeds the soul of each man, woman, and child that comes to us in need. As Pablo Picasso wrote, ‘The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.’ Thanks to Inspire Giving that happen here at River City Food Bank for the folks who need it most.” – Eileen Thomas, Executive Director, River City Food Bank, 2011 Inspire Giving Grantee
“The artwork created from our Project Inspire award has made a huge difference in the lives of the children and youth we serve and our volunteers, board, staff, and funders because the art makes our mission come alive! We believe, at 916 Ink, that gorgeous and creative places often fuel life-changing and transformative experiences. The signature artwork crafted for us through Inspire Giving provides a kind of self-reflective mirror into the magical gifts that comes when someone opens themselves up to the world of possibility.” – Katie McCleary, Founding Executive Director, 916 INK, 2015 Inspire Giving Grantee
“Inspire giving has become the gift that keeps on giving for the Job Smart Clothing program at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services (SFBFS). The Inspire Giving team created a transformational space both functionally and aesthetically.
The renovation has become a game changer beyond our wildest dreams with a profound impact on how and who we serve. We have found that the new environment has a powerful effect on the human psyche. The minute you walk through the door the design and décor of this fantastic boutique communicates “we care” – “you are important” and sets the tone for a positive experience still to come.
There is a tranquil, seemingly mystical presence now at Job Smart Clothing that inspires and attracts a collaboration of bright, skilled volunteer stylists who work passionately, not only with the job seeker but with other groups (i.e. high school students who are fitted with prom dresses/suits, a widow needing a suit for his wife’s funeral, etc.). Appointments are scheduled daily rather than weekly. Donors who tour our program are impressed and motivated to give. They seem to know intuitively what is needed to transform a life. Recently a woman seeking interview attire happened to mention to her stylist that she and her fiancé plan to get married and a wedding gown her size magically arrives just at the right time. Moments like this are priceless. There are so many stories and many surprises that come with this renovation. The mission of SFBFS is to remove barriers and move individuals toward self-sufficiency and financial independence. The individuals who walk through the JSC doors are provided with an uplifting life experience that opens a window to a better future.” – Tasha Bryant, Clothing Program Manager, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, 2016 Inspire Giving Grantee
Join Inspire Giving today! Text Inspire17 to 27722 or click here to submit your donation!