Right after I finished college and moved back to San Diego, I wanted to stay involved in art stuff and community service stuff, partly to delay the life of office work that I was destined for given my non-lucrative major (Art History). I was really interested in African art and culture because of all the classes about it that I took, and found a UCSD-student-run, non-profit organization called Africa Aid who were trying to organize an art auction to raise money for a group of craftswomen in South Africa. I signed up to volunteer and my task was to find local artists and ask them to donate their work for the auction. Somehow, I found a list online (the internet ca. 2006 was not exactly the information smorgasbord that it is now) of nearly a hundred artists who worked in San Diego and contacted all of them, one by one, either via phone or email, hitting them up for art. I’m bummed that I don’t have pictures of the actual auction because a surprising number of artists came through and donated some really beautiful pieces, most of which sold for hundreds of dollars each.
While I was and still am proud of the work I did with that group, the experience left me with a negative opinion about non-profit charity groups for a long time. I felt like a ghost at the meetings and most of the contact that I did have with the organizers was over the phone where I simply reported the quantity of donations being committed and by whom. I knew very little about how the event was coming together (they didn’t even tell me where it was going to be until a week before the event) and what was expected. I even had to buy my own shirt. After the auction, I never heard from the organizers again– not a recap of how it went, how much was raised, or a thank you message or anything. It all just seemed like a bunch of kids who were wrapped up in their “cause”, schmoozing it up at the auction. The experience put me off on doing community service for a while.