We get asked all of the time about our volunteer activity and organizations selection process. Our answer is always pretty simple. First, we keep our ears and eyes open to the need around us. When a need is announced, recognized, or discovered we try to jump on it to help out. We have also created a target list of organizations that we want to work with. Those on the list intrigue us, their mission excites us, and we want to serve and learn more. That list, once extremely long, continues to shrink with every passing week. This week, we checked another one of those organizations off of the list. It is fun. It is interesting. And after volunteering, we learned that it is awesome.
Wunderkammer Company is a nonprofit that seeks to revitalize communities through contemporary art. An old, iconic Fort Wayne building has been transformed into a contemporary art center that is transforming the art landscape of our city. Abstract sculptures, outside-the-box exhibitions, musical performances, historic panel discussions, and special events can be found inside the four walls, in the courtyard, and on the exterior bricks of Wunderkammer at any given time. It is a place that gives artists, who may never find a home for their work, their craft, or their talents, a place to thrive. When you visit, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the organization, its mission, and the people.
We spent time on a sunny Saturday morning working outside in the courtyard. It is going through a transformation. New plants are going in and old ones (and weeds) are coming out. A new vegetable garden is going in that will promote self-sustainability and urban farming. Rocks, roots, and stumps are being removed. There are visions of a new deck that can host bands and performances under the stars on a cool summer evening. The courtyard will be amazing. In order for the courtyard to become the treasure it is meant to be, work has to be done. We dug up and transplanted plants. We removed weeds and unwanted rocks. We chopped up old tree roots and cleared the way for new dirt. The girls planted and watered seedlings that will be the future of the outdoor space. It was physical labor, but easy work. The sun felt great and so did the organization’s appreciation.
Wunderkammer was founded by a man named Dan Swartz. Those who are active in the community know Dan because he truly loves our city. He is a huge advocate for Fort Wayne and he works really hard to improve our community. He is a visionary with big plans for Wunderkammer Company and big plans for Fort Wayne. We need more people in our communities around the country like Dan. He has a genuine love for people. He wants to make a positive difference in the lives of others. He takes action to close gaps that exist in our society. He is conduit of positive energy, encouragement, and laughter. If you know Dan, I think that you would agree (and you could add a lot more). He made our volunteer experience enjoyable. He wore his appreciation on his sleeve. He expressed it through his actions and his words. We worked, we laughed, and we worked. Dan was a model example of volunteer engagement.
You need to check out Wunderkammer Company. Attend a performance. Walk through an exhibit. Host a party. Just get there. Get involved and find ways to support the mission. Share the vision with others. By doing so you will be promoting the arts in our community. You will also help build a better community in the process.