Here I come to save the day! The pro-bono hero

We love paying clients. They pay us—we pay our bills. But every now and then, we find a non-profit that we believe in, and we’re the first to raise our hands to help.

Recently, we learned about a local summer music program: the Symphonic Youth Orchestra of Greater Indianapolis. Director Shawn Goodman founded SYO in 2008, and since then, the program has expanded to include not only a full orchestra, but also a jazz ensemble and a handbell choir. SYO includes students from all over the Indy metro area—some who have just started playing music and those who play multiple instruments. Shawn and Assistant Director Breann Royer encourage young people who love to play music to participate in the month-long intensive summer program.

 

Our son, Will, an oboe player, got involved in SYO this summer. A couple of weeks before the concerts, we offered to create a professional program for their performances—one at the Indianapolis Artsgarden and another at the Pike Performing Arts Center. We had no idea how detailed their previous programs had been. However, once we learned that their past programs had used full 8 ½-by-11-inch pages that were 22-26 pages long, we knew we had to bring our A-game to the table. This wouldn’t be a cheap 2-page folded program. This would be a program on par with the best programs in the world.

Of course, we had other work to do, too. So while Aric kept the paying clients happy, I worked on the SYO program. Information came in short emails, texts, and DropBox links. There were a lot of pictures and copy to arrange and not much time to do it. I stayed up on Thursday night until 3:45 a.m., designing layout, cropping pictures, creating ads, pouring copy, and on and on. The next day—the day before the concert—I worked on the program until about 8:45 p.m., when I had to hand it over to Aric to finish up the last few ads. I hadn’t slept more than four hours, and I really had to rest. But once in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about the program and worrying that Aric wouldn’t be able to read my mind about how I’d intended the rest of the program to work. After an hour and a half in bed, I got back up to make sure that everything was going okay. It was a good thing I did. Aric was working on the ads for the program, and there were (literally) 11th hour revisions. Together, we double-teamed the rest of the changes and managed to get the program done by 12:30 a.m.

Then, there were more changes first thing in the morning, too.

I absolutely loved working on this project. Yes, it was hard work on a tight deadline, but it was for an organization that was changing my son’s life. For a non-profit like SYO, I’d dig up a mountain one shovel at a time to move it.  

At both concerts, Shawn gave us a huge shout out, pointed out our own ad in the program, and told the audience about our 3:30 a.m. adventures. She said that if you want good work done, you need to visit Marcia and Aric at TikiKitchen. Several people approached us and told us how much they loved the programs. It was incredibly gratifying. Being a pro-bono hero makes you feel like you’re saving the world, one non-profit at a time.

It made me so proud to give our work to SYO. Their mission to provide music education opportunities to young people in Indianapolis is incredibly refreshing in our crazy world. When you encounter others doing great things, it inspires you to follow suit. (And hey, SYO takes donations year round, so if you’re feeling inspired. . . you know what to do!)

Sitting at the concerts on Saturday and Sunday, I beamed with pride. My son had a couple of short solos that he nailed. Our programs turned out beautifully. The group of students who had only been playing together for four weeks sounded more cohesive than the school band my son had been playing with for an entire year. Listening to the musical genius of Gershwin and John Williams, my heart soared. I could not have been happier.

Will’s involvement in SYO inspired us all in a number of ways. We want to see the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra much more often. They have incredible shows all the time, but we are always so busy that it’s hard to find time to go. However, if we want the arts to thrive for kids, we also need to make them thrive for adults. That means we need to support groups like the ISO because those SYO kids are going to want to have a place to play when they’re older and more experienced. That means we—the audience members—have to prioritize. We want to volunteer time with ISO, and/or we want to patronize organizations that do their best to bring joy and beauty into the world—the ISO, SYO, local theatres like IRT, Phoenix, and Indy Fringe, independent bookstores like Indy Reads, and other organizations that give so much to the Indianapolis community. There are many ways to give—whether you have money or not.

I was tired, but satisfied on Sunday night after the second concert. We’d all done a good job. The kids were the stars of the show, but I was happy that we’d been able to support them, even in a small way. Giving back to an organization that provides such incredible opportunities for kids in our community gives us a way to exercise our creative passions. That’s the TikiKitchen way.

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