AHCMC Welcomes Nabil Ghachem

April 3rd, 2015 by Joe

Nabil Ghachem, a grants manager with an impressive background in theatre and arts education, recently joined our staff as our new Grants Program Officer.  Below, Nabil discusses his new  role at the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, his international career in grants management, and more.

I was born and raised in Tunisia, a tiny country on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa lodged between Libya and Algeria. I grew up in a neighborhood where a mosque, a church and a synagogue were established only a few blocks from one another. This incredible diversity along with my family’s multi-cultural lineage had a huge influence on what would become a bit of a globetrotting career.

After high school in Tunisia, I was accepted into university in Brussels, Belgium, where I earned an accounting degree and was able to visit almost all of Europe.

In Brussels, I worked at the Arab Cultural Center, writing operating grants, producing international music and theatre festivals, and locating city and state project funding and office space. There, I developed a passion for theatre and enrolled in the Brussels Theatre Academy training program.

I participated in several theater residencies with Yoshi Oida, the GITIS Moscow School of Theatre, and the NO Japanese Theatre and led an immigrant theater group to win the Brussels Capital Theatre Tournament with Dario Fo’s Not to Pay.  Together, we developed arts education programs, short films, and documentaries that dealt with youth, education, and social issues. Following Brussels, I spent two fabulous years in New York  translating and directing Algerian author and poet, Hawa Djabali’s, The Cry of Desire for the Lincoln Center Theatre Director’s Lab, and Athos Fugard’s, Master Harold, and The Boys.

My work in grants management began in Santa Cruz, CA where I managed the County Arts Council’s Grants Program from 2002 until 2012. During my tenure, we completely re-structured the program by implementing new funding criteria, panel processes, and evaluation mechanisms, while initiating collaborations with the private sector and education institutions. We moved the grant making process online, expanded the technical assistance program, strengthened grantees’ managerial capacities, increased access to funding opportunities, and facilitated numerous forums, including the Bay Area Funders’ Forum.  I also had the privilege to launch the Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate program.

We were able to maintain a strong grants program thanks to the support from local city and county council members, local and regional foundations, state and federal support systems, and most of all thanks to a community who was involved in and advocated for the arts as a tool to enrich people’s lives, emotionally, intellectually and economically.

I think we were able to instill a model for collaboration and mutual support that I already see in effect here. As I learn more about Montgomery County’s arts and humanities landscape, I hope to have a chance to meet and work with the exceptional individuals, small, mid-size, and large organizations that contribute to advancing the creative economy in this region.

Nabil brings accounting know-how, extensive grantmaking experience, and a background as creative and cultural producer to this role.  We could not be more excited to welcome him to the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.  To learn more about Nabil, check out his bio and send him a note of welcome at Nabil.Ghachem@creativemoco.com!

The County Executive Announces FY16 Budget

March 18th, 2015 by Suzan

The County Executive’s Budget for FY16 is Positive for the Arts & Humanities

On Monday, March 16, County Executive Isiah Leggett announced his recommendations for Montgomery County’s FY 16 Operating Budget, recommending a flat appropriation for the arts and humanities for FY16.

The County Executive proposed a total budget of $4,442,700 for the Arts and Humanities Council. This budget proposal includes $2,876,763 in funds for general operating support for arts and humanities organizations and $90,000 in funds for grants to support cultural activity in Wheaton.  Given low tax revenues and other constraints and challenges on the County’s budget overall, we are pleased that the arts and humanities budget was not diminished.  We are also encouraged that the County Executive continues to support an additional $1,000,000 appropriation for capital improvement projects in our sector and $140,000 for public art.  We were able to do a lot of rebuilding in FY15 and this budget allows us to sustain that momentum.

Here’s how this funding breaks down:

FY16 Arts and Humanities Council Proposed Appropriation – $4,442,700 which includes:

• $2,876,763 – Operating Support Grants
• $616,557  - Small & Midsize Organizations & Individual Artists & Scholars
• $90,000 – Wheaton Cultural Grants
• $250,050 – Advancement Grants
• $409,330 – AHCMC Administration
• $200,000 – Arts & Humanities Matching Fund

Additional Appropriations:

• $140,000 – FY16 Public Arts Trust
• $1,000,000 – FY16 Capital Improvement Grants

Consequently, a total of $5,582,700 is proposed for the FY16 arts and humanities sector appropriation.

Overall, this is exciting news and we thank County Executive Ike Leggett for strengthening the County’s investment in arts and humanities organizations, artists and scholars through this “standstill budget”.

As always, we must continue our advocacy efforts and encourage the County Council to adopt the budget County Executive Ike Leggett has recommended. Here’s how I hope you can get involved:

Send a message of support to the County Executive, thanking him for this budget recommendation.  His email address and social media contacts can be found HERE

Also, plan to attend our Advocacy Potluck where you will be able to speak directly with the County Council to thank them for their support and hard work, as well as to encourage them to accept the County Executives budget recommendations.  We will be announcing the date of the potluck shortly; sign up HERE to receive our Advocacy Alerts to learn about this event and stay updated on our advocacy efforts.

As always, thank you for all you do to support the arts and humanities in Montgomery County.

Onward! Upward!

Cultural Grantmaking for Equity, Inclusion, and Community Development

February 13th, 2015 by Amina

Across the country, communities are integrating their unique heritage, culture, and design in successful urban planning strategies that are creating economic growth and community development.   From our headquarters in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, we have seen how an effective community arts strategy implemented over time can attract tourism, businesses, and encourage the right kind of placemaking.

As Montgomery County’s designated local arts agency, we are constantly thinking of ways to create innovative and impactful funding opportunities that develop strong communities and are responsive our community and constituents.  With Montgomery County’s FY15 budget allocation of $90,000 for cultural regranting in Wheaton Maryland, we have an incredible opportunity to do this work in a very special urban district.

Not only is Wheaton home to one of the County’s three Arts & Entertainment Districts, it is one of the state’s most culturally diverse areas. The AHCMC Wheaton Cultural Grants increase our capacity building offerings to artists, scholars, and cultural nonprofits while allowing us to advance a very important conversation about inclusion and equity in the arts.

Recently, we partnered with Americans for the Arts to host The Greater DC Diversity Pilot Initiative - a roundtable discussion about how local philanthropy can advance diversity and equity in the Greater Washington region’s cultural sector. More than 50 of our colleagues and local arts and humanities professionals came together to share their perspectives and ideas on this issue.  Here’s what we learned from their responses:

•  Minority-based cultural groups, small organizations, and emerging artists often experience the most difficulty in accessing venues and other spaces for presenting and creating their work.

•  A shortage of funding opportunities, a lack of awareness of existing funding opportunities, and a sluggish economy have made it difficult to obtain arts-based instruction, professional development, and even art-based experiences.

• Arts presenters embrace diversity and inclusion as core organizational values, but are often unsure how to reflect this in their communication and marketing activities.  These groups also struggle in developing/presenting artforms that can be equally embraced by diverse audiences.

These takeaways echo the feedback we received during our cultural asset mapping and community organizing activities in Wheaton. In December 2014, AHCMC held three charrettes to hear directly from prospective grantees and Wheaton residents about their experiences creating, presenting or accessing the arts and humanities in Wheaton. They voiced concerns about a variety of challenges that include:

• An insufficient number of arts venues, incubators, and affordable housing

•  Residential and commercial developments that exclude spaces for arts

•  Segmentation within the ethnic/cultural community and across mediums

•   “Silos” within the arts and humanities community

(see the full report here).

With these conversations in mind, we have developed the FY 15 Wheaton Cultural Grants Guidelines, now available.  We know from experience that it takes a prolonged and coordinated effort to foster the type of arts-based community development that we are trying to achieve in Wheaton.  The arts and humanities one part of the equation that includes the participation of public and private sectors.  The Arts & Humanities Council is extremely excited about working with all of our stakeholders through this process, and look forward to create a more vibrant arts community in Wheaton that will benefit all residents and reflect the heart and soul of this amazing community.

A “Red Orchard Wall” for Silver Spring’s Fenton Street Urban Park

December 23rd, 2014 by Amina

A Rendering of "Red Orchard Wall", designed by sculptor Michael Enn Sirvet

After issuing a Request for Design Qualifications to the public in October, The Public Arts Trust and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County are pleased to announce the selection of an outstanding public art proposal for the Silver Spring/Takoma Park community.

Red Orchard Wall by DC-based artist Michael Enn Sirvet is a contemporary outdoor sculpture whose design is inspired by the history of the Fenton Street Urban Park’s as a former apple orchard.  The “curving wall” sculpture, approximately ten feet in height and twelve in length, is expected to be installed at the intersection of Fenton Street and Philadelphia Avenue in summer 2015.

The Arts and Humanities Council and The Public Art Trust issued Request for Design Qualifications to the public, inviting local artists to submit their design qualifications to be considered for creating the public artwork that would replace Criss Cross, by artist Albert Paley.

On December 4, three Semifinalists who successfully responded to the RFQ presented their proposals to the community and a panel of judges during a public hearing in Downtown Silver Spring.  Sirvet’s proposal – with its references to the history of the site and the creative engagement that the sculpture creates between its environment, viewers, and landscape – was selected as the winning design.

Sirvet is a full-time artist whose professional experience includes a successful career as a structural engineer.  He has executed similar public art projects in several prominent public/private spaces, including the US Embassy in Malta, the US Embassy in Dubai, and Bowie State University.

Sirvet hopes Red Orchard Wall will reflect the growth and future of the Silver Spring/Takoma Park community:

“In choosing to tell the story of the long-gone apple orchard, we have decided to interpret the idea of an apple orchard in a contemporary way,” he said. “We do this to compliment the new, vibrant and modern nature of downtown Silver Spring, with its many newly constructed buildings and public areas. Modern Silver Spring demands cutting-edge contemporary sculpture to match its contemporary growth.”

AHCMC congratulates Sirvet on his innovative and engaging design, and thank all of the artists who submitted proposals.  For more information, read our official press release.

Community Meeting on Dec. 4 for Fenton Street Public Art Proposals

November 20th, 2014 by Sean

The public is invited to attend the presentation of proposals for the Fenton Street Urban Park Public Art Replacement Project on December 4, 2014 from 6:30pm – 8:30pm in the Betty Mae Kramer Gallery of the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910.

Semifinalists will present their proposals to the Selection Committee and the public and they will answer questions at this public meeting. Semi finalists will have 20 minutes to present their proposal individually and discretely; semi finalists will not be presenting in front of each other.

This public art project is intended to replace Criss Cross, a sculpture that was removed from the public road right-of-way on Fenton Street. The project area for consideration includes road rights-of-ways along Fenton Street, Philadelphia Avenue and Burlington Avenue, as well as the existing Fenton Street Urban Park. There are plans to expand and completely redevelop this area in the future, so the artwork should not be considered a permanent feature to remain in place over the long term. The project will be a site-specific artwork that is reflective of the community and potentially incorporates a neighborhood or local theme. The artwork could be a site furnishing element that may be relocated or re-used when the Fenton Street Urban Park is redeveloped, or it could be a temporary project that would be removed from the site when future development occurs in the area.

The Public Arts Trust (PAT) of Montgomery County, MD, administered by the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (AHCMC), invited artists to submit Statements of Qualifications to design, fabricate and install artwork on publicly-owned land between a residential neighborhood and an industrial district with auto repair shops in Silver Spring, Maryland in August, 2014. A Selection Committee comprised of members of the East Silver Spring Civic Association, Montgomery Parks, Montgomery College, the Public Arts Trust, The Montgomery County Departments of Recreation and Transportation was convened to review the submissions and three semifinalists were chosen.

For more information contact will.mcgowan@creativemoco.com or call 301-565-3805

Art in Transit: Call to Artists for The Purple Line

November 19th, 2014 by Amina

The deadline to submit applications for the Purple Line Art-In-Transit has been extended to Friday, November 28, 2014!

Ever wondered how cool and creative public artwork ends up in the Metro?  Are you an artist who thinks your artwork would catch the eye of the millions of busy commuters who use the Metro every day?  Well, this opportunity is for you!

The Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) General Engineering Consultant Team (GEC) seeks artists to create enhancements for the future Purple Line light rail project which will connect Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland. Professional artists, preferably with public art experience are encouraged to apply.

Artists will be asked to work with the communities along the corridor to create artwork that highlights the cultural vitality of the region, and reflects the artistic, cultural and/or historical interests of the surrounding communities.

For more information, visit http://www.purplelinemd.com/en/art-in-transit or write to artintransit@purplelinemd.com.

New Grants to Support Creative Placemaking in the Wheaton Arts & Entertainment District

November 13th, 2014 by Amina

We want to hear from you!

The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County is planning an exciting new initiative to transform local communities in Wheaton through the arts and humanities.

In FY15, we received an appropriation of $90,000 to be used to stimulate the Wheaton Arts and Entertainment District. These new grant funds will target artists, scholars, and arts and humanities organizations in Wheaton, MD to support its burgeoning growth as an acclaimed cultural destination.

We are exploring a variety of creative placemaking projects that may include live performances and music series, temporary arts installations, projects that convert underutilized public and private spaces into sites for arts experiences, and more.  Our community organizer Alex Cartagena has been on the ground in Wheaton introducing our initiative to the public and getting feedback and ideas from local artists, individuals, and organizations.

A rendering of the town plaza being designed for Wheaton via StonebridgeCarras

Get Involved.

Voice your opinion at one of the several charrettes we are hosting to give residents and other stakeholders in Wheaton a chance to share their ideas  on what types of projects we should support.

  • Wednesday, December 3 (6pm-9pm) at Hollywood East
  • Wednesday, December 10 (12pm-3pm) at Limerick Pub
  • Saturday, December 13 (10am-1pm) at Midcounty Regional Ctr.
  • Then, in January 2015 we will have finalized the guidelines for these grants, which will be awarded by June 30, 2015.

    The possibilities are endless – that’s why we are asking community members to share with us their artistic vision and aspirations for Wheaton.

    How do you think the arts and humanities can make a difference in this unique community?  Email us your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions at info@creativemoco.com and stay tuned to our FB page for more information!

    2014 Emerging Leader Award Winner Paula Ross

    October 17th, 2014 by Carolyn

    At this years County Executive’s Awards ceremony,  Mr. Ike Leggett will present the 2014 Emerging Leader Award to Paula Ross for her work with The Metropolitan Ballet Theatre and Academy (MBT).  Paula Ross has been Executive Director at MBT since 2012 and has helped  guide the organization through a major capital campaign and tremendous growth.

    Reserve your ticket today and join us on October 20 at 7pm as we honor Paula, and many others, at the 2014 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities

    Paula Ross:

    I like to think that the arts chose me and not the other way around. I have no professional background in the arts or dance, although I enjoyed dance and theater years ago as an activity in high school and college. I have a degree in Environmental Science and English, and prior to Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, I was a strategic communications consultant working on projects as diverse as environmental cleanups and retail marketing.

    I came to MBT as a contractor to write a capital campaign strategy and re-vamp the marketing plan. I stayed on after that initial contract period as the Director of Development & Marketing for two reasons:

    First, the organization needed someone full-time in marketing & development. Second,

    “I fell in love with the company, the people, the mission and the challenge presented to get MBT into a new space and to find funding for it.I am very proud of the work that our team at MBT is doing to serve our community and to advance the arts in Montgomery County.”

    It sounds cliché, but I really feel like the universe had a grander plan with my involvement at MBT. I was only supposed to be at MBT for four months. My love for the organization grew during that time and I can’t envision doing anything else now. I am thrilled to take on a larger role in the organization.  My work is exciting and rewarding and each day is different. The advocacy portion of my job really makes me tick because the issue of arts education matters so much, particularly because the core curriculum at our schools are changing to reduce the frequency and duration of arts experiences. Being able to see that value every day with our students and in our outreach programs, and with my own children, has been immensely rewarding.

    “A few months into my work at MBT, a parent pulled me aside and made a comment that the ”energy” had changed at MBT with Elizabeth Catlett and I being involved, and that she noticed a change in the students’ and parents’ enthusiasm for our programming and outreach activities. There was a “buzz” building.”

    Liz and I were really just getting started, but that sense that things were refreshed and growing was very exciting. More recently, we held a ribbon-cutting for our brand new space. Our team stood among community members, business leaders and elected officials at all levels of government – including our County Executive and our U.S. Congressman – to officially welcome MBT into its new home. That moment was the culmination of an immense amount of work and community support and left quite an impression on me and my colleagues.

    “We know that we have a responsibility to these people, to the community that we serve, to advance arts education and to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the students we are putting forth into the world.”

    On a more personal note, I also have able to witness my daughter fall in love with dance here over the past two years, and I’ve seen her dance on stage in her first Nutcracker. That moment above all others brought me to happy tears.

    MBT is unique as a dance academy and performance company in that we want everyone who desires to dance to be able to experience the joy of this art form, regardless of age, body type, ability, prior experience, future aspiration or financial means.

    We will never turn anyone away. We have been growing our residency programs over the past couple of years to take arts education beyond our own walls into the broader community, and it is my goal to continue growing these outreach programs. MBT has a 25-year tradition behind us, but we feel like we are just getting started!

    Arts education can take many forms. We are able to collaborate with nearly any other organization to build communities through the arts. Scientific research makes it clear that arts experiences positively influence a child’s overall academic performance, the ability to concentrate, and to learn and memorize. What’s more interesting to examine is the ability for arts experiences to bring a community together.

    For instance, can our programs at Title 1 schools bring together diverse families that are feeling the day-to-day stresses of poverty? Can a community come together to support a performance by these students, who otherwise may not have had exposure to arts education? Can we provide opportunity for cross-generational support through our programs to seniors? We think the answer is a very strong yes. All of these programs- alongside other organizations across this wonderfully creative county- are building stronger, more vibrant communities. I am proud that MBT is playing a role in that effort.

    2014 Community Award Winner Ricardo Loaiza On Dance and Dedication

    October 16th, 2014 by Carolyn

    Ricardo Loaiza, Founder of the After School Dance Fund, Inc., produces the Annual MCPS Latin Dance Competition at Strathmore. This event, now in its 15th year, has become the County’s premier Hispanic grassroots community event.

    In recognition of Ricardo’s dedication to youth, community, and the preservation of Latin American musical and dance traditions, he will be awarded the 2014 County Executive’s Community Award! Reserve your ticket today and join us on Monday, October 20 at 7 pm as we honor Ricardo and many others, at the 2014 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities.

    Below, Ricardo  shares his story and reveals how dance helps bring people and communities together.

    Ricardo Loaiza: I have been a resident of Montgomery County since October of 1997.  I moved to the US and specifically to this area in 1990 from Suriname, where I lived for 10 years with my mom, late-stepfather, sister and brother.  Salsa dancing and teaching has always been my passion, and it’s actually how I met my lovely and patient wife Elba.

    When I first moved to Montgomery County, I began volunteering at different high schools. I helped some students with their performance at a Multicultural night at Seneca Valley High School.  Since then, every year a small exciting event was held at a different school’s auditorium, and slowly it became a large competition and place where Hispanic Latino families in Montgomery County could gather to support their kids exhibiting their culture through dance and healthy fun.

    I started teaching Salsa in DC nightclubs and other venues in 1991 and continued from 1995 to 2007. When I met Elba, I asked her to join me in a Colombian Folkloric Group called “El Tairona”. We then created the first Salsa Dance Group of the area and started to travel abroad to teach and perform.  From Japan to Aruba, and from Holland to Dubai, we kept pretty busy.  The Latin dance demand was there, and we even founded the region’s first Latino owned dance studio in 1999, exactly where the Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center currently is, though it only lasted a year.

    “We also had the privilege to accompany great Salsa legends of today and yesterday on stage, including International artists such as Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, Victor Manuel, Tito Puente, Israel Lopez “Cachao” (the founder of Mambo), and Marc Anthony at the beginning of his career.”

    In 2010 we found ourselves at Strathmore talking to Monica Jeffries Hazangeles because the Latin dance competition kept growing, and there was no school auditorium big enough to host the competition.  Three weeks before our competition, we couldn’t find a non-profit to underwrite the event, especially on such a short notice.

    That is when my wife Elba suggested that we create one.  I started doing my homework, in three days we created The After School Dance Fund Inc.  My proudest moment was when the IRS determination letter came in the mail in April 2012, exactly 18 months after I filed.  I wasn’t expecting to receive approval on the first shot of writing FORM 1023!  All of my learning experiences as part of a nonprofit have been memorable. It is quite a journey, but I have a great support system at home, an excellent Board, many other people in the Montgomery County community who are always willing to hold my hand and show me the way.

    The connection between art and community building is what the After School Dance Fund stands for.  Our mission is to promote health, exercise, cultural diversity and unity through Latin dance education.

    “The special thing about dance is that it is a healthy skill to have or acquire at any age.  It can help with social and emotional development. Regardless of where in the world you go, if you dance, it will help you communicate.”

    The annual Latin dance competition at Strathmore is by far the County’s premier Hispanic grassroots community event, because it defines the different cultures within Hispanics, and non-Hispanics through Latin dancing. My most memorable moment at After School Dance Fund is always when the kids receive their medals at the end of the competition.  They all cry out of emotion, because it is over, and they feel so accomplished that they got to be on a world class stage to represent their school.

    2014 Volunteer Award Winner Jeff Struewing On the Magic Of Theater

    October 16th, 2014 by Carolyn

    Today we are featuring Jeff Struewing, the winner of the 2014 Volunteer Award for his work with Lumina Studio Theatre. As a volunteer with Lumina for over nine years, Jeff has become a regular backstage fixture.  He devotes his time and care to finding props that will help make Lumina’s theatrical productions the very best they can be, contributing memorable and eye catching props to each production.  Every prop Jeff finds, he provides to Lumina free of cost (!!), allowing them to save resources for other production expenses.  His dedication is truly inspiring!

    Reserve your ticket today and join us on Monday, October 20 at 7 pm as we honor Jeff, and many others, at the 2014 Montgomery County Executive’s Awards for Excellence in the Arts in Humanities.

    Jeff Struewing: My son’s  first show with a large role was my first show doing props – Midsummer Night’s Dream – and what a show it was.  It was set in a French Cafe with beautiful music, some sung in Flemish.  We went through gallons of Cool Whip (yes, Cool Whip) because the couples get into their tussles by having massive cream pie fights, with seltzer water to boot.

    As the show came to a close, with the little kids singing as they sat around an accordion player and the glitter falling from the sky, I was incredibly moved and knew I was involved with something special.

    “I am a scientist and have worked at NIH for over 20 years. I had never set foot on a stage before and had no idea what “theater magic” was, but after that show, there was no doubt in my mind: theater was magical and I was hooked.”

    David Minton (Executive and Artistic director) and Jillian Raye (Artistic Director and Founder) expect a lot of the actors and it is amazing to see how they respond.  My son continued for several more years, having larger and larger roles.  Basically, I saw him grow up at the Black Box in Silver Spring.  I continued with props and supporting the productions in any way I could.  When my son finished at Lumina, I was torn about whether to continue. But one more year was followed by another, and 5 years after my son’s last performance, I am still at it!  I just love getting to know the kids and see them grow into amazing young adults. It is truly a privilege to witness.

    “Being part of Lumina has really opened my eyes to the arts.  I am experiencing most of these Shakespearean and other classic works for the first time in my life. ” The language is so beautiful, and I learn as much as the kids do when David and the other directors explain what is going on and how to convey the meaning. I am in awe at what young high school kids can do –tons of original Shakespeare lines that they nail every time.  The costumes are fantastic, the sets are so clever and professional, the music is usually live, and the sound and makeup are great as well.

    Lumina has grown and matured a lot over the past decade.  It is a treasure for the community.  I feel very lucky to live in Silver Spring and Montgomery County where there is such a vibrant arts community.  It is easy to pour your heart and soul into something that everyone else is so dedicated to as well.

    Sometimes during “hell week” it can be exhausting and I have more than once asked myself if I should step back and hand it over to someone else –after all, none of my children are involved anymore and the time commitment is significant. But then something will happen that makes me know it is worth it. One such time happened late one night during hell week when I told myself that this was my last production. –I had a rough day and was tired and anxious to get home.  Then, out of the blue, one of the actors whom I had not interacted with a lot over the years spontaneously thanked me for everything I did for them, and I just about collapsed.

    We don’t always know the impact we have on people or how important a kind word can be, so I try to keep that in mind and acknowledge what other people do for me. In receiving this award, I hope that David, Jillian, Julie, and absolutely everyone involved in Lumina know how much I appreciate the support they have given me.  My life is so much more enriched for having been part of such a wonderful organization.