Michelle Micalizzi, Artist
(All Rights Reserved)
10% of the proceeds from the sale of this work benefits Support My Club.
This is the second of two blogs and paintings focusing on WebPT’s core value:
Resource Efficiency: Do Mas with Menos
WebPT started lean – with three employees in the back of a coffee shop –
And we never want to lose touch with our bootstrapped roots.
See the first blog: BOOTSTRAPPED ROOTS
Amy Armstrong is the kind of person that comprehends what her mission and vision are to the point that they completely bubble out of her like firecrackers on the Fourth of July. I understand this abundance of enthusiasm. When I witness this form of love and commitment to others in another person, I am so relieved! Amy and I know from experience that when one has been saved from the brink of hell, you cannot help but scream it quickly and loudly from every roof top.
What can I say about Amy that could possibly do her justice? Well first of all, she talks about extraordinary ideas faster than I do and with as much enthusiasm, which is yet another commonality between us. I had to stop her video many times in order to capture notes about her dialogue. Her commentary was so insightful and amusing, that while reviewing the video alone in my studio, I found myself laughing out loud much to the curiosity of my cats. Everyone knows that when I laugh it is my heart saying, as Anne LaMonte said in her book, Traveling Mercies, “Ain’t that the truth?!”
In short, Support My Club serves high school teens by supporting the clubs they belong to. Their support crosses all teen interests that include more than athletics but equally organizations representing academics, arts, and all extracurricular activity. Regardless of the group designation, what they fundamentally do is much bigger than that.
If ever there is a fearless interview you should take the time to watch to appreciate the full benefit of the genius entity that Amy created and WHY she created it – this would be it. I could ramble on for fifteen pages about the massively significant things that Amy advocates for and that which she daily puts her boots on the ground for! Her purpose is especially poignant if you have children or love a child. So get a cup of coffee, toss a pet in your lap for a couple of minutes and be inspired by her commentary.
The bottom line is that kids like myself and Amy who get involved in clubs with their peers have a higher percentage of making “it”. One stat after another cites that kids who get involved in organized school groups are more effective, they have higher rates of graduation, their grades are higher and they have less depression and get involved in less crime.
Amy’s back story exemplifies the power of school clubs in that she was an orphan by the age of fifteen. Her life could have gone in a very different direction if she did not have people like her dance teacher, Ms. Holly in her life paying attention. She could have very easily fallen off the radar and into darkness to become another statistic that is not as favorable.
Myself, I grew up with self-employed hard working BUSY parents. Without a doubt, it took a village to raise me. I credit my extraordinarily caring teachers and neighbors as well as my participation in gymnastics, the arts, student council, and an amazing Green Mountain Teen Institute (GMTI) with who I am today. I grew up in the gym, in the library, at the city pool, on the football and basket sidelines, with a paint brush in my hand, and in activity meetings with fellow students as much as I did in my parent’s bike shops and home. I so appreciate and believe in what Amy is doing because I was the benefactor of the benevolence of clubs like the ones that Amy supports. Frankly, my extracurricular activities lead me to this point in my life in which I am presenting the Art of Fearlessly Giving Back project.
You will never hear Amy rallying against the bad because, she like myself, is too busy standing up and taking action for the good. We have to support the good. If we do not then we will see more and more horrible things happening in our schools.
Check out the Support My Club website and take a look at the needs of the clubs they support. I am absolutely certain that there is something on some lucky clubs wish list that you can help with.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM AMY ABOUT BEING FEARLESS?
1 Practice Reciprocity
It is simple. If you get then give. If you give you get. When we are on either side of reciprocity there are benefits not only to those that participate but those who observe the exchange as well. We love to observe people do nice things for one another because it lifts us up simply by being the viewer. When we create this cycle, it is also hard to tell where the cycle began. Giving just becomes part of the culture.
When a club receives a gift of $100, the kids give back $100 of service to the community. Kids get to learn about the cycle of giving coupled with humble gratitude. They also get to feel empowered when receiving by not just accepting a hand out. The action of taking an action teaches humility.
2. Cross into Other Peoples Lanes
When you are small and mighty you wear all the hats while frequently crossing into other roles. Everyone has a job and that job is to make sure it all gets done, which sometimes means you might have to take the garbage out, patch a whole in the wall, or some other job that some might say is “not my job man!” such as cleaning a toilet. When an organization and family success is the end result, there is no job too big or too small; everyone rolls up their sleeves with a smile and gets “it” done.
3. DIY (Do It Yourself!)
If you want or need something ask for it, or roll up your sleeves again and get your hands dirty. I have been a do it yourselfer my whole life and as a result I have one crazy set of skills that confuses many HR departments. When you are a founder of a new organization necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I have stripped floors, painted entire buildings, balanced the books, done all the marketing, did the public speaking, changed my oil, designed a website and a logo, implemented an entire software package, and 800 other seemingly crazy tasks all before 10 AM. When you are a woman on a mission, “crafty” takes on a whole new meaning.
Another thing that Amy spoke of is that when you DIY you have to be ok with good enough. Amy says we do not need a fancy building with pillars to deliver quality service! I agree! When you believe in what you are doing – you just do what must be done and are okay with the results because you do not have time for perfection there is another club that needs your help!
4. Get a Loud Speaker
Having quality board members that walk in many circles who get behind your mission and values and who also shout it from the roof tops is smart, smart, smart. Essentially that is what this entire fearless art project is about. Shouting out the extraordinary things that one amazing company is doing that is helping not just one but six absolutely worthy organizations who do incredible things for this community and the world at large.
5. Fear (Comma) Less
When Amy speaks in public she tells us that she always knows where the garbage can is. She had a public speaking teacher teach her that. She says she has not tossed her cookies into any of the cans she spied (yet) but she always feels like she might. Amy feels that if you find yourself no longer afraid you might screw up a great thing and you get bored if you are no longer doing something you believe in. She feels fear is a motivator and an indicator that you still care. She fears less today but she still fears because she still cares deeply about her mission.
Thank you so much Amy for being the example of how a person can take seemingly insurmountable adversity and use it for good, for all the amazing things you and your mighty team make possible every day and for taking time out for this interview!
My fellow motorcycle adventure blogger and dear friend Tim Collins and I recently had the honor of previewing “Won’t you be my Neighbor?” at the Phoenix Film Festival. The film documents Public Television’s Mr. Roger’s life. Mr. Rogers knew that children deeply mattered and so does Amy Armstrong and that is why they both have devoted their lives to lifting children up.
A well placed benevolent adult in a teens life can make all the difference. Both Amy and I had adults that we deeply respected who had hearts of gold lifting us up at a pivotal time in our teen years. As you can see by the path we have both chosen – they left a commitment of service in both of our hearts. The power of example!
In this piece, a child is easily lifted up by an adult which is the foundation of the stage that she is standing on. I chose a girl child because the child in this case is Amy and the adult lifting her up is her dance teacher Ms. Holly.
The other hands below also her supporting club members. The perspective is what the audience sees from their seats. We do not have to add a community element to the piece because in this instance they are where you are – the observer.
The title of the piece is reminiscent of when we are little ones and we reach our hands up to our parents tell our parents to “LIFT ME UP!”. We do not ask them (with a question mark) – we tell them (with an exclamation point).
Support My Club is telling us to “LIFT KIDS UP!” with an exclamation point NOT an question mark.
Entrepreneurs and inspiring stories of all kinds are Fearlessly Deliver’s muse and focus. As an artist, a business woman and a visual journalist Michelle Micalizzi paints with a purpose. The Fearless Art Projects are collaborative social practice art engagements that connect art + business + community.
The ART OF FEARLESSLY GIVING BACK (AoFGB) is a community awareness series that focuses on the mission of select charitable organizations and the social responsible companies and philanthropic individuals that support them.