Five years ago, Free Arts helped assemble a group of young men and women who were once participants in a Free Arts program, whether it was as a camper in our Camp Series, or one of our participants in our Weekly Mentor program. The goal was to keep the group connected and to provide self-development skills to children and teens who had aged-out of foster care group homes or transitioned out of the shelters and schools we serve. What began as casual nights hanging out with a few friends, has turned into a group of over 20 members who make up our alumni program. This group meets quarterly to create art, gain important job and life skills, as well as just catch up with life-long friends.
Recently, AJ, one of our Free Arts alumni, spearheaded our first ever alumni open mic night, titled Bravery, inviting his peers from this group to share their poetry, original songs, and amazing talent. Over 12 alumni, ages 16 – 27, gathered together at The Listening Room (who generously donated the use of their space) to perform. AJ hosted this wonderful night in front of a supportive audience of Free Arts staff, volunteers, professional teaching artists, family, and friends. This event is just one of the ways our alumni group has grown and will continue to grow in the coming years. Hopefully, the powerful effect of the arts will remain with our alumni for a lifetime.