A friend mentioned this year she’ll be setting “values-based goals.” This was something I could get behind. I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions or long lists of specific objectives. I typically have one or two big goals but, as an artist, I prefer to stay fluid, able to pick up or let go of my goals as opportunities arrive. I acknowledge, though, that most of my goals, and certainly my most successful efforts, have always been tied to my core values.
In 1991, I started a simple freelance writing business. In 2009, I decided to launch a company that could “grow in conjunction with community service.” I even put that exact wording into the mission statement for Teresa Funke & Company, LLC.
See, I’ve always felt that artists are in a unique position to move between various sectors and share our ideas, skills, and talents in ways that will bring inspiration and creative solutions to our communities. The sectors I wanted to work with were education, business, the arts, and nonprofits.
Over the past 11 years, I’ve developed my School Kit program, placing kits into 80 schools. This past year, I started a special initiative to provide classroom kits to Native American schools to help support learning during this challenging time of pandemic. With the support of my business and individual partners, I’ve also run my Author Visit for Schools Program, providing visits and 25 free books to 10 local schools each year.
One of my favorite community programs is our annual Great Book Giveaway. We partner with local organizations that serve at-risk, low-income, and Latino children to supply free books for their holiday giveaways. I have countless cherished memories of meeting kids who told me excitedly they had never owned their very own book before.
In addition to these ongoing programs, I’ve also instigated several collaborative efforts with local nonprofits, like the staged performance we did as a fundraiser for a local theater based on my book Dancing in Combat Boots, or the literacy programs I developed for the Boys & Girls Clubs.
There’s so much joy in running a values-based business, and our values cross over everything from the products we develop to the social media we share.
2020 was a difficult year for most businesses, including mine. But as my revenue streams slowed down, I found myself with more time to contemplate what type of leader I’d like to be and how I can best serve my community, as well as my customers and clients.
One of my writer friends said she thinks when the pandemic runs its course, and artists are able to get fully back to work, we’re going to enter into a new renaissance. I hope she’s right. I hope one of the hallmarks of this new renaissance will be a renewed appreciation among artists for all the ways we can serve and contribute to “rebirth” in the arts, culture, politics, and economics. And a renewed appreciation among our counterparts in the health, education, business, nonprofit, political, and faith communities for how artists can collaborate with them to advance objectives that benefit us all.
If your energy has not quite rebounded from the stresses of this past year, that’s okay. Take this time to rest, nurture your budding ideas, and build your strength. You’re going to need it. In this new world that is emerging, we have an opportunity to redefine reality. And we can do so by getting back to core values that serve everyone.
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