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How Did We Get Here?
Founder's Story

In August of 2017, I received a call from family in Houston, Texas. A massive storm deemed Hurricane Harvey was heading inbound into Houston and the surrounding areas. My family was safe, had evacuated far from the area, and all were (thankfully) virtually unaffected by the devastation Hurricane Harvey soon caused. The rest of the residents of Texas, however… I didn’t know.

 

But of one thing I was certain: I felt called to serve the people of Texas in any way I could. So, I bought a plane ticket, took a week of leave, and flew to Houston on a whim.

Hurricane Harvey caused over $125 billion in damage and over 100 deaths. On record, it is tied as the costliest tropical cyclone to Hurricane Katrina (2005).

I was not prepared for what I saw, experienced, nor witnessed in Southeast Texas. Despite so much destruction and damage, the locals were kind and gracious. Strangers offered the entirety of their gas to allow teams to continue driving and helping others. Families supplied food to put in bellies, though they had very little of it themselves. Good-hearted people offered accommodations, even though theirs were half-soaked in water.

The humility
was astounding.

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I was grateful to have joined a team that specializes in SAR, extractions, and emergency medical first response.
But as a fledgling humanitarian,

VERY
QUICKLY,

I LEARNED
I WAS OUT
OF MY
DEPTH

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I WAS NOT:
  • Military, current or previous

  • Law Enforcement, current or previous

  • In possession of tactical training

  • Aware what FEMA was or did

  • A male

  • Who already owned or simply knew to purchase and show up wearing clothing and equipment including camouflage cargo pants, army boots, steel plates/body armor, etc.

I WAS :
  • A female

  • In a male-dominated environment

  • Often referred to as" "Hey Skinny Jeans!"

  • Wearing Point Park University Conservatory

  • of Performing Arts (COPA) and Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) T shirts and hiking boots

  • In posession of little experience, knowledge, and/or clout to merit my presence

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AND YET,
I THRIVED.

I learned to facilitate:

  • SAR (Search and Rescue)

  • Small Animal Rescue

  • Welfare Checks

  • and began learning the
    Incident Command System 

     

I followed the team to Florida to provide
aid and relief to victims of Hurricane Irma,
which made landfall August 30th, 2017.

 

There, we:

  • Coordinated aid and distribution centers

  • Organized warehouses full of supplies

  • and I met more phenomenal people - including volunteers who, like myself, simply took off work to help others. 

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I returned home impacted and inspired
by my experiences, and shared them with many friends, family and loved ones.

 

I continued teaching dance, performing, and working full-time. Simultaneously, I  searched for and became involved in volunteer opportunities in multiple capacities. I sought the level of fulfillment that came from helping others on the frontlines of areas effected by crisis and disaster, and found some of that fulfillment in my passion for movement.

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I moved to London in 2018 to pursue graduate studies, giving up volunteer work and humanitarian passion to focus on schoolwork.

Doing so resulted in performing, teaching, and presenting choreographic work internationally. This included having the privilege of performing and presenting a solo in Greece, teaching creative dance, technique and improvisational workshops in China, and traveling throughout Europe, Asia, and Central America.

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COLLABORATION
WAS AT THE HEART
OF EVERY PROCESS

From flying back to the states and producing a full-length benefit concert in support of a wonderful nonprofit, to teaching creative music and movement

workshops to 40+ 8-9-year-old primary school children, collaboration was at the heart of every action.

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Global
Pandemic

Unexpected
Relocation

I returned to Texas, this time replacing the

namesake “Hey Skinny Jeans” with

"Miss Tatie" or, more often than not,

"Miss Tatie! I Lost A Tooth!”

 

I pursued graduate studies remotely.

With the gracious kindness and support of

friends, families, peers, and colleagues, 

I produced a global dance-theatre

production that spanned continents and was presented in England, Mexico, USA 

(NYC, Pittsburgh, Portland, Texas, etc.) and more.

The research and the production held steadfast to the belief that the arts are essential-that the show must always go on.

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FEBRUARY
24th 2022

RUSSIA'S
FULL-SCALE
INVASION
OF UKRAINE

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By March of 2022,

my dear European friends (one of which is from Kyiv) were sending me updates daily.

I opened my messages to on-the-ground

updates of bombings and missile trajectory

paths. I witnessed second-hand the

devastation caused by war. 

Doing so caused me to feel the same

feeling as the moment I felt called to serve

Southeast Texas. Only this time,

the call felt different.

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MY SOLUTION:

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I felt called to create Artists Sans Frontières, or ASF-NGO, to provide volunteer performing arts outreach, entertainment, and enrichment for all ages to Ukrainian refugees. 

Artist Statement

ASF-NGO was created as a direct response to the Ukrainian crisis - though, arguably, the organization has been in the making since the day I flew into George Bush International (Houston airport) aiming to lend a hand. As a proud American dancer and choreographer, and as a fledgling humanitarian, I couldn’t resist the call I felt to respond. I also could not negate the impact that the last few years of global pandemic yielded on my beliefs about the role of the performing arts. I fervently believe that dance, music, and theatre are essential - that they serve an important and necessary role in our cities, in our culture, and on the frontlines of first response and crisis management (though secondary to the needs of food, water, shelter, and safety those needs may be). Everything ASF-NGO facilitates and accomplishes - coordinating with international teachers, performers, and creatives; collaborating with churches, partners, and donors; providing performing arts outreach to children, adults, families, refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons and more; putting smiles on faces; celebrating laughter and happiness - everything that I am proud to stand for and be a part of facilitating... it comes from one simple articulation. For me, movement and music are NOT supplemental. They are of course my career and my livelihood, but they are also my life. I cannot exist without them. Each day,

I wake up and I need the following:

Food.

Water.

Shelter.

Safety.

Art.

I do not know a greater honor nor privilege in this life than sharing exactly that with any and everyone around. But I do know this: I couldn't do so alone. No matter how or if you choose to help, I am grateful for you. Thank you for reading, and thank you for supporting the work and the mission of Artists Sans Frontieres in any and every capacity. Because you are the reason I get to share dance, music, and theatre in areas that otherwise would not have any, and for that I have all the gratitude in the world.

 

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