By Sue Crolick, Founder
Creatives for Causes / Art Buddies
Back in the early 90’s, I was a freelance designer starting to feel over the hill. All kinds of young, talented kids were coming into my field. They were doing wild and wonderful stuff on the Mac, and I was still doing marker layouts, tracing type by hand, and scared to death of the computer.
Maybe it was time for me to move over and do something else. But WHAT?
I’ve always had a heart for kids who don’t have a lot, and I’ve always loved creativity. I started thinking how wonderful it would be to tap the fantastic talent of creative people in my field, and bring it to those kids.
I had seen how much creative people wanted to give back, ever since we organized a creative event to help kids at St. Joseph’s Home for Children in 1993. Over the next couple of years, hundreds of creative volunteers from our local chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts showed up to work with the children, and their hearts were in it! It was a joy to see.
So I started talking to my friends about closing my design business and starting a nonprofit. My friends were worried, and my family was really worried, but I had a strong feeling that I was now supposed to quit my job and do this. I sensed a big reservoir of talent and goodwill within our creative community, waiting to be tapped.
In 1994, I took the leap and founded Creatives for Causes. We started a program called Art Buddies, which pairs creative mentors from all kinds of creative fields—one-on-one—with kids from low-income families.
I worked night and day on my dream, fueled by my passion for the cause, and after a couple of years, the program was going great. But I was not going great, I was burning out. Running a nonprofit was more exhausting than I’d ever imagined!
Luckily, a gifted young woman appeared and saved us. Stephanie Vagle was wonderful with the children, great with the volunteers. She was smart, creative, and wise. She was just what we needed, and she’s still working her magic today.
Art Buddies has been going strong for almost 19 years now, and we’ve brought creative joy to thousands of kids.
I love watching the children transform, watching them go from hesitant and shy to beaming and proud. I believe in the power of creativity to change their lives. I love what Grecia, a nine-year-old girl in our program, told us: “I never really knew I was creative before. Now I feel like I could do anything!”