Our classes are held Mondays through Thursdays until 6:30 every week. It’s been a long time since I’ve left the building while classes are going on – I’m either working from home, out of the office for meetings or don’t leave until after classes have ended. Yesterday, I happened to leave the office right at 5:00 and when I walked to the side parking lot where my car was, I was stunned to see that the parking lot was full … and even more stunned to pull through the back alley and see that the opposite parking lot was nearly full!
What the …? I thought. Is there something going on that I don’t know about? Why in the world are there so many cars here when it’s only a normal Thursday? I’ve never seen the lots full except when we’re presenting a professional touring production and for a moment, I couldn’t register why all those cars were there and then I remembered…our little program has grown up quite a bit.
When I walked outside yesterday, there were two dance classes, one visual art class and one adult day habilitation program going on at the same time. I know how many students that equates to – 59 people ages 3 to 60 were in the building, along with probably 40 volunteers – but I guess I didn’t realize exactly how many people that was until I saw all those cars.
For a few blocks, I allowed myself to gloat just a little, which went something like this: All those cars are in the parking lot because I got a brilliant idea while I was cooking spaghetti one night! The cars are there because Alan had the idea to create a new organization in the first place! The cars are there because we built it and they came!
Then honesty trumped ego when I recognized that the parking lots aren’t full because of Alan and me. They are full because of the arts. Those cars are there because almost everyone has an innate desire to express themselves through the arts. Whether you are “typical” or “special” doesn’t matter – people have been dancing around fires, singing and beating drums, painting and writing on cave walls for as long as there have been humans. Before The Johnny Stallings Arts Program started in 2008, there wasn’t anywhere in my community that people with special needs could go to participate in the arts (I’ll share my outrage at that fact in another blog post!) so it shouldn’t be surprising that five-and-a-half years later, the parking lot is full. The arts did it, not us.
If you don’t know the story of how Alan and I got the idea to donate the money to start a non-profit and what led me to create The Johnny Stallings Arts Program, my next post will fill in the blanks. In the meantime, I’m wondering … if we built another parking lot, how long would it take to fill that one up?