Art Buddy Spotlight: Katie Tholke, Intern

Meet Katie Tholke, the Art Buddies Intern for our spring 2015 semester.

How did you get connected with Art Buddies?

I found this awesome opportunity to intern for Steph and Scott through St. Catherine University in St. Paul. I’m currently a junior in the Financial Economics program, minoring in Business Administration. St. Catherine’s was awarded a grant through Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation that provided paid work experience with local non-profits, including Art Buddies!

What do you do as an intern for Art Buddies?

I’m currently working on finishing up several projects at our downtown office hosted at Carmichael Lynch, in addition to the time I spend helping with programs at our partnering schools. One project is researching and reaching out to past Art Buddies students who are now adults, to see what they’re up to today and how Art Buddies impacted their lives.

I’ve also been chipping away at updating our contact list. Most recently, I have been requesting donations from local businesses for prize drawing items for our Letter-Palooza fundraiser in May. So far we have tickets for several awesome theaters and the Walker Art Center, some locally roasted coffee beans, and gift cards to some great restaurants.

You'll have to attend Letter-Palooza to check it out:

How would you describe Art Buddies to someone who has never heard of the program?

Art Buddies is a one-on-one arts mentoring program that serves lower income neighborhoods with free after-school programs.

What has been your most memorable experience with Art Buddies?

Finding out that Jesus Barrera was a former Art Buddy through my research, and that he works at Bancroft! I’ve also gotten the chance to hop in a couple of times when an adult buddy has been absent or we’ve had a shortage of mentors for whatever reason. This has given me the understanding and appreciation for what our volunteers do every week.

Why did you decide to become active with Art Buddies?

Art Buddies is a great combination of many things I love; non-profits, arts, and mentoring. I have a background in architecture from the University of Minnesota, and even though I’m not pursuing that career path now, I definitely still enjoy spending time creating. Art Buddies seemed like the perfect organization to see what working at a non-profit would be like, which is my ultimate goal.

What advice would you give to rookie Art Buddies volunteers?

Be flexible; you never know what kind of costume your buddy might like. You’re there for guidance and support!

How do you feel the after-school combination of creativity and mentoring helps children with school work?

I think getting to know their adult buddies and what they do in their jobs is important for kids to see how their hard work at school can pay off in their future. Not all children have the opportunity to know creative professionals in their personal lives, or know how important school is for their future.

Tell us a unique or interesting Art Buddies experience that inspired you.

I love how the child I got to work with didn’t have fear of starting a project like I do! She just went for it and cut into the fabric, while I might take a lot longer to get the same results.

I also learned not to be afraid to express yourself; the kids combined many of their interests into one costume. I don’t think even as a kid I would have been as openly creative as so many of them are. I would have been afraid of looking silly or not fitting in, so I definitely learned something from the confidence they build at Art Buddies.


Art Buddies accepts mentor applications every fall and spring. Learn how you can volunteer with Art Buddies at