Arizona, Art, and Culture (Oh My!)

Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, expansion and creation of arts and culture in Southern Arizona. 

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The Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance seeks to enhance access to the arts and to promote cultural awareness, through the production of large-scale festivals, seasonal events and other collaborative and cross-sector programming. The Alliance also administers educational opportunities in arts and culture for all ages.

“SAACA’s events and programs are built through collaboration, creating a true foundation for community engagement,” says Chelsey Killebrew, Communications Director for the Agency. “We focus on economic development through the arts via strategic business partnerships to ensure the arts remain a core value in the community for years to come.”

“We exist because we know that the arts are a powerful vehicle for communication, a way to express ideas that are beyond the capacity of words and a medium for cultural enlightenment.” – Chelsey Killebrew, Communications Director for the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance

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Each year, the SAACA works with more than 1,000 local and national visual artists to create opportunities to exhibit and sell their artwork, hires more than 400 unique local musicians and groups to perform, partners with 12 local schools to implement a music education program, and provides hundreds of opportunities for all ages to engage in arts and culture through free community events.

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As you can probably imagine, putting on all these programs and events is no easy task – the Alliance relies on hundreds of volunteers each year to make their mission a reality. “Before using VolunteerLocal, we would contact our volunteers via email listing the opportunities that were available, and if we got a low recruitment response to a particular event we would contact them via phone,” says Killebrew. “We are having success recruiting new and younger volunteers with VolunteerLocal, and would recommend it to other organizations.” Want to get involved? You can sign up for the Oro Valley Festival of the Arts today!

SAACA is currently launching two much-needed programs in arts education and therapeutic arts for the community. Volunteers at fundraising and outreach events are needed now more than ever. The education program connects students and administers to a comprehensive resource of high-quality arts education programs, and the therapeutic arts program integrates arts as form of healing for veterans at the Southern Arizona VA hospital.

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Typhoon Haiyan Relief

Our hearts go out to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines last week. If you’re eager to roll up your sleeves, here are a few ways you can get involved to help those in need.

Give a little (money), get a little (warm fuzzy). Make a donation to assist those in the PhilippinesUNICEF
through UNICEF, the world relief fund. UNICEF was the first organization on-the-ground in the aftermath of this devastating storm, and they continue to provide temporary infrastructure for displaced and/or injured families. Funds received are focused particularly in the care of the 4.4 million children who have been affected by the storm.

Want more options? There are plenty of accredited nonprofits on the case: Pick your favorite and take action.

Find your loved ones. A Google Doc has been created to find someone you know or register information about someone who is safe and well online. According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, there are 2,344 confirmed deaths, with another 3,804 hurt.

Play to your strengths. Hundreds of nurses from across the country responded to a call for help on the RN ResponseRNRN Network (RNRN), an agency that organizes nurses for disaster responses. If you are a nurse, or know a nurse, who is willing to help in the Philippines, click here. You can also make a donation through the RNRN to fund this endeavor. The agency reports that over 370 nurses signed up in just five hours after posting the request, with more signing up every day.

Things that inspire us. In the largest scale fundraising effort it has ever made on a social media platform, the Red Cross is partnering with Facebook to accept donations for Typhoon Haiyan relief. Facebook has announced that 100% of the donations will go to the Red Cross.

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Des Moines Junior Chamber

The Des Moines Junior Chamber (Jaycees) is a local group of young professionals in the Des Moines metro who are focused on community service and professional development. Interestingly, the Iowa chapter is one of the oldest in the country. “We’ve been around for 90 years,” says Ryan Anderson, Vice President of the Des Moines Junior Chamber. “And we’re still going strong.”

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The group encourages its members to take on community projects, pursue their interests and carve out programs with the support of the Junior Chamber staff and resources. “If you have the passion or vision to start something,” says Anderson, “the Jaycees want to enable you to make it a reality.”

Of course, there is no shortage of YP groups in the metro, one thing that Anderson believes strengthens the Des Moines community. “It’s great that there are so many avenues for young professionals to pursue in this area,” he says. “Like all of these organizations, the Jaycees provides its own unique opportunities to empower YPs.”

Among them are the Junior Chamber’s strong relationship with the East Des Moines Chamber of Commerce, their award-winning professional development training programs, and their state and regional conventions. Anderson adds, “we really are a community service focused group. Networking is good, but we want to get our hands dirty and get involved.”

Anderson points to the Jaycees recent partnership with VolunteerLocal’s “Happy Sams” program – an initiative to get more YPs involved in community service throughout the metro, and their pivotal role in supporting  Smiles for Preston, a benefit cook-out for a local child born with the rare neurological disorder, Moebius Syndrome. The group makes monthly community service outings that are driven by the needs of our community.

“I love Des Moines,” says Anderson. “It’s a place with a constant open-door policy. City leaders are attentive to our community’s new ideas and progressive projects; they’ve done a great job embracing young professionals and we’re happy to be operating here, in the heart of it all.”

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