The Generous Heart of the Arts

20170911_125201-COLLAGE001_1505152432405This week I got a warm reminder that our city’s arts community has an incredible, generous heart.

This has always been true, but at a time when it’s easy to be disheartened by the worst in humanity, seeing the best of humanity shine is a welcome boost to morale.

This particular reminder came in the form of an email from David Brown at Harmony Project. An organization already rooted in the tradition of local service, they shared their commitment to help a Houston family, the Negrets, who were devastated by hurricane Harvey.

With images of the destruction caused by hurricane Irma currently dominating our feeds and Harvey’s victims still reeling, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. So many people need help and no single person can help them all. There are many worthy organizations to donate to and plenty of effort is being made to get the word out. That is all good, but with the immensity of the challenges facing the people of Texas and Florida it is easy to lose site of the individuals. Each image we see on the news impacts peope, with names and stories.

This is why I appreciate the Harmony Project’s approach of adopting one family—of focusing their efforts in a tangible way that will have a significant impact.

The Negret family, Gustavo and DeShanna, and their three daughters, Alejandria, Christiana and Reyna, lost all of their possessions when more than four feet of water flooded their home during hurricane Harvey. Without flood insurance, they are faced with rebuilding and replacing all of the basic necessities of life.

Tom Katzenmeyer

Tom Katzenmeyer, president of the Greater Columbus Arts Council

Harmony Project connected with the Negrets by partnering with Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) a Houston arts organization. The three daughters, including the youngest daughter Reyna, who has autism, are students at TUTS who LOVE to sing

Harmony Project has set up multiple ways to help the Negrets. Download this PDF for a list of stores that have locations in Columbus and Houston where gift cards can be purchased, a  list of goods to donate and information on how to get donations to the Harmony Project over the next few weeks. They also set up an online donation page.

A Harmony Project team will be making a road trip to Houston to deliver donations in person.

This is, of course, just one example of the generosity that I witness in our arts community every day. Each act of kindness makes all of us stronger and better.

— Tom Katzenmeyer, connect with Tom on LinkedIn.