FUND for artists with disabilities

How IT HAPPENED

My purpose in life seems to be helping others on their path.   This ranges from personal one-on-one with friends and family, to counseling men at a county prison, women at a state correctional facility, helping my staff at various jobs to pursue their careers, and a long history of advising individuals and organizations in resource development and strategic planning.   However, Richard “Ric” Swierat, Executive Director of Arc of Westchester, presented me with a big challenge in 2008, help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on their path of self-expression.  Ric wanted to start an art gallery featuring disabled artists in Arc’s new building.  He asked me to head up an advisory committee to work with staff to build the program, unfunded.  Over nearly a decade we gradually built the program, entitled gallery265.  The program now has a permanent collection and, very uniquely, displays the works of our artists in businesses, offices and institutions around the county.  These installations fulfill an important facet of Arc’s mission, inclusion in the community.  All along I have been aware that this is a unique experience of helping others on their path.   Persons with these disabilities need an outlet for self-expression, either as part of a group or individually.  But they need advocates, even those capable of self-advocacy.   This challenge has deeply become my passion, and commitment.   As a legacy for the future, I have initiated, via the Westchester Community Foundation, the Fund for Artists with Disabilities.   The Fund has been modestly seeded by me, and in turn my family and friends.  We now need to build it to the point where meaningful grants can be awarded through the Westchester Community Foundation.  Examples of uses for the Fund would be skill training opportunities, fulfilling the practical need for art supplies, or educational conferences on the need for programs like gallery265.   Contact me with any questions or if you want to join our cause.   Thank you.  Rob Miss robertemiss@gmail.com

How to Join the Cause
To make a contribution, make your check payable to Community Funds, Inc. with "Fund for Artists with Disabilities" on the Memo line.  Send to Westchester Community Foundation, 210 N. Central Park Avenue, Hartsdale, NY 10530.   Thanks very much.   Rob