Snow City Arts was recognized in 2007 by the White House as one of the 15 best youth programs in the United States. Now almost 20 years in operation, they continue to grow and inspire us by improving the healthcare experience for children in hospitals through arts education. Children battling various illnesses are introduced to the visual arts, music, theater, creative writing, and media arts. Through these programs, the kids are given the opportunities to learn and create that their healthy peers are enjoying in school.
How has Snow City Arts been so successful? They’ve grown their dedicated volunteer base and generous donor base through a series of great events, a number of them hosted by the Auxiliary Board. Mai Vukcevich, Membership Chair and member of the Board Resource Committee for the Auxiliary Board, recently spoke with CharityScenes about what it’s like to be on the board and part of such a great cause.
CharityScenes: Tell us about your role as Membership Chair and what the Board Resource Committee is up to.
Mai Vukcevich: It’s been a great role for me! I’m involved in strategic planning for the board as well as recruiting. Our board members are engaged in our board and are passionate about this great cause, so it’s important that we assess how we’re making the best use of our members, how they are benefitting from their involvement, and how we can continue to recruit great candidates. One of our most important activities on the Board Resource Committee was conducting a survey to understand what brings the board together and what we are doing well at and where we can improve.
CS: That’s a great idea. What did you learn from the survey?
MV: We learned that we could help our board members be more effective by giving them the resources to work on their “pitch”. It’s an important skill as a board member to learn how to make some difficult asks; not many people are experienced with or comfortable asking for donations. We enable board members by offering guidance and providing opportunities for practice. Our board members have learned how to be prepared and informed for difficult conversations; it’s a useful skill here and it’s a useful skill for professional environments or personal conversations.
CS: Very cool – do you think the pitches have been more effective as a result?
MV: Yes! Our board continues to grow and our events are increasingly successful. We have about 25 members on board now and I could see that increasing to 35+ in the near term. Similarly, our events continue to draw in new audiences and promote our cause.
CS: What are some of those events?
MV: We have the upcoming Gallery Night which will be hosted at the School of the Art Institute on Friday, September 9th. It’s an amazing event where supporters can connect with the mission by viewing artwork by our students (while enjoying some great cocktails and appetizers, of course). Another upcoming event is the Monster Dash on October 23rd(5k, 10k and half marathon races). It’s a wonderful community of supporters so it makes for a fun, successful event. Last year we raised over $28,000 and this year we are looking to raise $30,000 for the program.
CS: Sounds like you’re pretty busy!
MV: Very! In between those events, we’ll be continuing our ACTIVATE 2016 series in collaboration with the Chicago Loop Alliance. It’s a casual, interesting event where attendees can mingle and better understand our mission by talking to current board members. They are pretty passionate and pretty articulate (an example of that can be seen in Mai’s blog post here!).
CS: There are a lot of great events where we can learn about Snow City Arts! Which is your favorite?
MV: They are all wonderful. I’ve always loved the Gallery Night, but I recently participated in a shadow day at one of our partner hospitals and that might actually be the best “event” I’ve attended through Snow City Arts. I had the opportunity to follow one of our teaching artists as she conducted a workshop with one patient. They played the ukulele and keyboard, opening up the patient to new experiences and abilities while talking about some of the personal challenges that particular patient had faced. The session ended as our teaching artist sang Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” repeating “every little thing is going to be alright”. It was such a positive way to end the session; I had to hold back tears.
CS: What a beautiful experience that must have been. How can young professionals support the great work that Snow City Arts does?
MV: Join our board! It’s an extensive recruiting process, but it’s structured to ensure members know what they are signing up for. Outside of joining the board, you can attend our Gallery Night or activate event, run in the Monster Dash, make a donation, or sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date!