Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One of our smallest, yet biggest, helpers

In December, when ten year old Devan heard about the possibility for an art and music center in her town, she knew she had to be a part of making it happen.

Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda had every indication their idea to turn their small rental home at 706 2nd Street North would be competing for a Pepsi Refresh grant, and Devan added to the excitement with her own. She immediately involved herself by visiting Whimsey and finding Kiaralinda. "I just walked up to her and asked," Devan said. "I wanted to help."

And since then, Devan has helped. She handed out postcards at the Christmas parade. Her parents brought her to the aqua house that will someday be unrecognizable compared to its current condition, and she couldn't stop talking about the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center to her friends and family. In fact, Devan went a step further; she made it her personal goal to help make this dream come true. Plus, to make it even better, SHAMc fit the requirements for her fourth grade service project.

"I knew it would be a great project because it would serve the community," she said. "I like art and music."

Unfortunately, not only for Devan, but for the arts community as a whole, there was a computer glitch in that first attempt and Pepsi didn't include SHAMc in the competition. "We were so close!" Devan said, remembering her disappointment, but still smiling.

Maybe most kids would have dropped it--gone on to new, perhaps more exciting projects--but not her. Devan had already created a project binder and she separated the sections into categories: What I am doing; How I can Help; What is the Art and Music Center?

"It's a big purple binder with 'SHAMc' on the cover and the spine," she explained. "I have cards on how to vote and some newspaper articles too. When I heard that we got in, I wrote 'yeah!' in my May updates section." She laughed--her energy meeting every definition of a happy kid. "The binder is massive now," she said. "Cards stick out of the sides. I always keep cards in my backpack so I can hand them out and tell people how to vote."

If anyone understands the complexities of trying to win a $50,000 grant, it's Devan. She has been talking to classmates, to teachers, and to everyone she meets, but because she attends two different classes each day, she has to fit the time in to leave her class to present her project to other classes. Her teachers are supportive, and Devan is sure that by the end of May everyone in her school will know what the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center is and can be.

At Third Friday in May, Devan was at the SHAMc booth, showing people the model of the center's plans, passing out cards, and talking to community members.

Why would a ten year old dedicate herself so fully to an idea--to a service project like hers? Perhaps it's because Devan knows what she wants for her future. "I'm in chorus, plus, I have won a lot of art shows. One was a chalk butterfly with vines and I didn't think it was that good, but my teacher told me I won!," she said. "I want to do something with art. I like dancing. I might be a Cirque du Soleil dancer and performer. Dance is art. It's just a different kind of art."

Devan won the Tropicana Speech competition at her school and is going to District for Battle of the Books. She is also performing in Fairies Inc. in Dunedin.

Our sincere thanks and lots of high fives to Devan. Thank you for your help during this process. We appreciate all you've done and we appreciate your hard work!

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