I’m reflecting today on the idea of service, and all the ways we model “giving back” to our kids and our co-workers. I was delighted to hear yesterday that my kids’ fourth grade class has been tasked with creating a social enterprise, and then selecting a nonprofit which will benefit. With only a little [appropriate] encouragement, my son’s team has chosen ArtsWave because “ArtsWave puts the arts in schools.” Oh, and also, "Hayden's mom works there." 

ArtsWave’s research has shown a direct correlation between those Cincinnatians who engage in the arts and those who engage in our civic life, which reinforces for me the obligation to expand, expand, expand both groups. We need citizen-leadership in all realms of our community. We need the arts to build empathy and tolerance, promote avenues of inclusion, and unleash innovation and creativity. Kids need to experience the direct applications of serving and giving.

Forbes Magazine has recently identified five surprising benefits of volunteering for a cause you care about. They include, paradoxically, making you feel like you have more time, building your skills, improving your health – even making you experience more love. Powerful stuff!

ArtsWave is immensely fortunate to have literally hundreds of individuals who volunteer to make our collaborative ArtsWave Community Campaign work, year after year. This spring’s fund drive will be the 68th annual – one of the longest running community arts campaigns in the country. We have donors who have been giving consecutively for decades, and we have volunteers who have been working with us for that long.

A few weeks ago, we recognized one of these longtime volunteers for her service. Joan Osterbrock has been hand-signing letters in our neighbor-to-neighbor campaign for 30 YEARS. Think about it – for three decades Joan has started off her New Year by asking neighbors and strangers to support the community’s arts campaign.

We asked her why she does it, and she said, “I want to do something worthwhile. I want my kids and grandkids to have the arts to enjoy just like I do.” 

As we count down to the 2017 ArtsWave Community Campaign, I share Joan’s story with you as one story out of literally hundreds of volunteers who are hitting the pavement now to reach and exceed last year’s total of $12,450,000 for arts in Greater Cincinnati, from 41,000 donors.