Work of Heart
A middle-school teacher planted a seed of an idea for community volunteering, and Anning Cui took it to heart.
“I chose Art with a Heart because I wanted to combine (volunteering) with something I was passionate about,” says Anning, now 17, a senior at Dulaney High School.
The nonprofit Art with a Heart enriches the lives of Baltimore’s vulnerable population of all ages through art classes.
Every Friday for several years, Anning provided hands-on help with crafts and public art projects.
In 10th and 11th grades, she participated in the organization’s Art of Leadership program, designed to develop leadership skills and fresh perspectives on community challenges among city youth.
“We went on a bus tour of Baltimore, except it wasn’t a sightseeing, landmark tour,” Anning recalls. “It was a tour that looked at the disparity between neighborhoods.”
Overall, what has she learned?
“It helped me stay grounded” and “taught me how to be part of a collective team,” says Anning, whose top interests include art, math, reading and playing high school volleyball. While some people might not see a correlation between math and art, Anning does.
“I think they are super related,” she explains. “When I’m drawing or solving a math problem, in order to get an answer, you have to deal with very abstract ideas. If you’re looking at classical methods of drawing in realism, if you’re drawing an arm, you don’t look at an arm—you look at the shape of the arm, the space around it. It’s sort of the same with math—if I’m trying to figure out how many apples in the answer to a problem, I’m not looking at apples. I’m looking at a number that represents the apples.”
She’s currently applying to colleges and hoping to follow in her mom’s footsteps by becoming a math teacher. There’s no doubt, as a teacher herself, she’ll impact the next generation of students.
Advice from the Expert
What Anning Cui has to say about volunteering
“Volunteer for something you care about,” Anning Cui advises. She encourages kids to look beyond dollar values.
“You should feel like your work is accomplishing something—your work should be valued. That doesn’t mean people going up to you saying, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ or giving you money. It means value as in doing good.”
Having a Heart for Art
Art with a Heart is celebrating its 21st anniversary in Baltimore. During the past year, the organization provided 14,000 visual art classes to the disadvantaged.
Art with a Heart engages more than 3,700 volunteers.
For More Info
Art with a Heart, artwithaheart.net