The Power of the Arts to Save a Life!
By Stacy Yashinsky - Director of Operations at the ARTgarage
The power of the arts. How do you quantify that? When I look back at my life, the impact that the arts have had on the trajectory of my life, was monumental! It started when someone saw potential in me and someone believed in me, when no one else did.
I was born in Howard, WI and I don’t remember much of my childhood until I was 11. That is when my parents divorced because of my father’s alcoholism. The next couple of years were extremely rough! My father was still drinking and my mother needed to learn how to become an independent parent. She had no high school diploma and no employment skills. She eventually accomplished both but we were living in poverty. Our family situation created a lot of emotional havoc and conflict where I was seeking help from anyone! Feeling hopeless and trapped, I quietly attempted suicide several times.
At this same time, I had moved to a new school and started to realize that I had a talent for singing. It was through the choir teacher and the music association that encouraged me to apply for a summer music scholarship at the University of Wisconsin Green Bay. They saw something in me that I didn’t. Each year, they continued to pour into me and my voice. I didn’t realize it at the time, but music is what would change the trajectory of my life. It is what would give me hope amidst the depression and conflict I felt at home.
A few years later, I was given the opportunity to fulfill my dream of singing in a rock band. At the age of 14, I was playing nights and weekends all over WI and MI. We were so poor, the little money I made of $25 per gig, I would hand over to my mother to buy groceries or pay for gas. While my mother and I did not get along, I will always be grateful to her for allowing me to pursue that dream. Music had become my passion and is what carried me through this troubled period in my life.
Since that time, music has remained a part of my life. It has become a part of my soul where I literally, could not live without it! I eventually accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and would combine my love for music with God and became a worship leader at a non-denominational church. For 12 years, I directed a full arts ministry with music, drama and technical arts.
I do not blame my parents for my past nor hold any negative feelings toward them. I love them dearly! It has simply shaped who I am today.
Because someone invested in a poor, troubled young girl with music scholarships year after year, it put me on a path where I am now the first person in my family to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Arts Management and Music. My children have never known what it’s like to be poor and have to pay for food to live and they are now pursuing their own love for music. All because someone believed and invested in me!
September 10-16, 2017 is National Arts in Education Week. Do you want to make a difference in the world? Then invest in the arts! The ARTgarage offers multiple youth workshops and adult workshops to help you explore your inner creativity. Or donate to the ARTgarage, where we can provide a scholarship to an underprivileged or art risk youth, like myself. You have the potential to not just change that child’s life, but ripple down into the next generation.
Never underestimate the power of the arts! It has the power to save, the power to give hope and the power to transform. I am a testimony to that!