When Michaelanne Helms came to DVULI, she was at a crossroads. She was still passionate about her community youth arts ministry, but after five years, she felt that maybe she had taken the organization as far as she could on her own. As she thought about the future of Orange Korner Arts, she felt uncertain, burnt out, and alone.
“It was a one-person show, and that was the downfall,” Helms says. “I was working in perceived isolation, and I didn’t know if I would always have a new idea to keep the organization moving forward. When you’re doing it all alone like that, it’s hard not to get discouraged.”
That’s when a friend introduced Helms to DVULI.
“He was an alumnus of the initiative, and he told me, ‘if you just did DVULI, all of your questions would be answered.”
So, Helms applied, and immediately, she says, she began to see her ministry from a new perspective.
“During the application process, I looked at the core values of DVULI, and that’s when it really hit me that those were the areas I had been struggling with, especially balance, empowerment and interdependence. I realized that this was a chance to redirect myself.”
Helms knew that she needed to let go of the reins of Orange Korner Arts and let others in to help. She decided to construct her DVULI breakthrough plan around the concept of implementing an advisory council into her organization. A few months after she graduated from the initiative, that council, made up of five community leaders, four youth participants and two parents, held its first meeting.
“To sit at a table and just begin to work together, and to see the commitment and engagement of everyone involved has been the most energizing activity I’ve been a part of since I started the organization. I found out I don’t have to do this alone, because I have all of these experts and youth and parents who are excited to run with it.”
And, she is able to let them do just that, she says, because of the values she learned in DVULI, which helped her to transition from a ‘one-person show’ to an effective leader focused on empowering others to work together to get the job done.
“I look around me now and I think, ‘wow, I never thought it could be this good,’” she said. “It’s not about where I want this to go anymore; it’s about where we want it to go, and that is so exciting. Our capacity and hope for the future now is through the roof.”