LEAF Love Fund Campaign & Cameron Maybin’s Maybin Mission (April 2017)
The LEAF Love Fund Campaign hits an early milestone.
Emphasis on “community”: Black Mountain-based nonprofit LEAF Community Arts, at 22 years young, is well-known throughout Western North Carolina—the twice-annual LEAF Festival (plus LEAF Downtown AVL), in particular, having become a regional institution (the 44th Festival happens next month, May 11-14). So in 2014, a series of six Vision 2020 Summits were held throughout the Southeast, and out of these collaborative conversations among community leaders and LEAF members emerged a set of core principles for LEAF’s 2020 Vision: Growth and Stability, Transforming Lives, Connecting Cultures, and Generating Unity. The idea was to look towards the future and, mindful of a long-term legacy to be forged by LEAF, utilize “music, art, and festivals to create welcoming places and spaces of possibility that embrace these core values.”
“LEAF serves in our local neighborhoods as well as with our global partners.”
Following the conversations, the LEAF Love Fund Campaign was mounted, with the goal of establishing a $1,000,000 LEAF Endowment Fund for long-term support of LEAF International and LEAF Schools & Streets cultural arts education programs. Teaming with LEAF to lead the effort: Asheville native son and former Detroit Tigers/current Los Angeles Angels outfielder Cameron Maybin, who established his Maybin Mission in 2016 to inspire positive development among inner city youth in locales across the country, Buncombe County included, and empower them with a deeper awareness of their own cultural identities.
Explained Maybin, “I believe in the power of African-American youth in Asheville, and that through music and arts, they have a voice to change their lives. LEAF offers youth the opportunity to find this voice within themselves. It’s an honor to partner with LEAF—sharing cultural opportunities and educational programming with youth. Through our Maybin Mission initiative, my family and I are proud supporters of community arts, instilling positive change, and development for our next generation.” (In January at UNC-Asheville, Maybin hosted the inaugural Maybin Mission Youth Camp, and nearly 150 kids, ages 8 to 13, turned out for the Saturday morning baseball clinic.)
In a show of overwhelming support, within 12 months that $1 million fundraising goal was a reality. The LEAF Love Fund Campaign culminated into the LEAF Endowment Fund, which effectively gives LEAF the ability to move beyond short-term partnerships and commit long-term resources to programs serving youth, families, and communities that are often overlooked. The Fund will serve as an independent revenue stream separate of LEAF Festival ticket sales or special events revenue and will allow LEAF to truly shift to a culture of giving. According to LEAF, “The priorities of these programs include positive youth development, partnering to build stronger local communities, helping preserve global traditions, and connecting cultures.”
On January 31, LEAF hosted meet ‘n’ greets featuring LEAF Schools & Streets programs: LEAF Djembeso, at the Christine W. Avery Learning Center; and Hip Hop Dance, in Woodridge public housing community. The former featured teacher Adama Dembele, an Asheville-based master djembe player originally from the Ivory Coast, who led a youth class in authentic West African drumming and rhythms. The dance workshop was taught by Otto “Aquaboogy” Vasquez, an internationally acclaimed Broadway dancer, instructor, choreographer, and street dancer. By all accounts, both events were inspiring successes, and in true LEAF fashion, there is more to come.
“LEAF serves in our local neighborhoods as well as with our global partners,” says Jennifer Pickering, LEAF founder and executive director. “The LEAF Endowment Fund gives me great hope because we will be able to say to organizations like the Delta House in Buncombe County, residents of Southside & Burton Street neighborhood in Asheville, members of The Bribri First Nation indigenous tribe in Costa Rica, and many other partners, that LEAF is committed to working with you to preserve cultures and empower communities through cultural arts for decades to come.”
More details on the LEAF Love Campaign and LEAF Endowment Fund can be viewed at www.theLEAF.org/leaflove. For details on the Maybin Mission: www.MaybinMission.com.
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