"What it took to raise my generation of youth will not work for this generation."
One day, Pat Martin, 47, of Stone Mountain, GA, bought some ballet tutus for the children in her day care. The changes she observed in the girls inspired her to form a dance organization for children and youth in metro Atlanta.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Pat: In 1995, I founded a program called the KIDDS Dance Project Inc. in Stone Mountain. Georgia. My ultimate goal is to build character through the performing arts. I work with kids ages 4-17.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Pat: The kids do major stage productions. Their productions have been seen on the stages of the Atlanta Civic Center, the Robert Ferst Center and the Rialto Center for the performing arts. The youth participants come from all over the metro Atlanta area, including Stone mountain, Lithonia, Decatur and the City of Atlanta.
What inspired you to get involved?
Pat: I always loved working with children. I was formerly a registered nurse who resigned and started a licensed family day care business in my home. One day I told the kids that we would do a fun activity centered around dancing. I went out and bought ballet tutus, and all of a sudden I saw the powerful effect that the tutus had on the three- and four-year-old girls’ self esteem. Then I saw it have the same effect on teenage girls. Then I began adding the boys to our performances and watched the magic of the performing arts on any child’s self esteem.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Pat: Through my home day care business
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Pat: Watching the kids backstage brag about themselves and feel proud about their accomplishments.
What is/was the hardest part?
Pat: Funding what I do!
What was the biggest surprise?
Pat: Receiving the 2004 Martin Luther King Community Service Award at Emory University for "Best Program for Children".
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Pat: Having worked with “at-risk” youth now for eight years, I have learned that kids really just want to be kids, and they want to be loved, even the MOST difficult ones. I have changed my thinking because the kids have helped me to realize that times have changed, and what it took to raise my generation of youth will not work for this generation.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Pat: Allow your passion for what you do be your inspiration to continue.
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