I remember being approached with this question in college, “Are you going to use your design to help others—people that need good design but can’t afford it? Are you open to non-profit work or little compensation for a worthy cause?” This was asked by one of my favorite professors in The School of Architecture, Art, and Design. The class was called College Identity, and it was the most comprehensive class that I had in the Graphic Design department concerning really well thought out strategy and application. We worked with real clients, and one of our clients was a non-profit. We worked for the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education and developed and pitched campaigns to the board, leaving with a lot of excitement and hope for them to be used. I’m not sure if they ever got used, but we learned more than anything that we can use our talents to help others and that we should.
These are just some fun and simple things that I have been given the opportunity to create lately.
The first is for First Light Shelter in downtown Birmingham. It’s such a great center for homeless women and children, and it really focuses on pushing them in the right direction so that they can get on their feet and create a new life. I have gotten the opportunity to work a little bit at their building with my friend, Jamie. At one overnight stay, we woke up in the morning to turn on the lights and get the women started with their day. I saw a sweet older woman that had come to talk to us the night before. She was just sitting on her bed, smiling from ear to ear. I looked at her, groggy of course, and said, “You just made me so happy to walk out here and be immediately greeted with a smile.” She replied, “Of course I’m happy. The Lord gave me another day.” Wow. Her joy struck me. How often I do everything with complaining and grumbling, and this woman, with only a very few possessions and sleeping in a place that is not her home, filled my heart with joy and reminded me to praise God.
When I was approached by First Light to create their Holiday newsletter, I couldn’t say no. This was created to help their Holiday Lights program—an annual initiative where you can buy a light or a string of lights to help support First Light. This was fun, because I got to do some simple drawings of the city and incorporate them into the design.
This was a fun one and an annual design for me. My father is a member of the Kiwanis Club back home, and being the sports fanatic that he is, he gets to take part in heading up the New Albany Hotbed Classic—an annual basketball tournament that hosts teams from Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and sometimes other southern states as well. This is just a great chance to do something fun and appeal to the younger crowd. This year, I felt like going “retro Nike.”
Another great organization, SIFAT— Servants in Faith and Technology. Located in Lineville, Alabama, this place offers everything from retreats to mission camps that will prepare you for whatever setting you will be serving in. They coordinate and schedule mission teams for Ecuador and Bolivia and teach kids and adults what it means to serve and how to do that in different settings. My cousin recently married the Campus Director, and they had a beautiful and moving wedding at the campus where I got to attend and see SIFAT for myself. Surrounded by trees, creeks, hills, and a constant breathtaking view, I was excited about what this organization does and the ministry there. I was recently approached by she and her husband to create a logo and t-shirt for a weekend experience that they hosted called, “48: A Slum Experience.” This weekend retreat gave people the opportunity to live in a slum setting and to see what it’s like to have to make money, get food, and sleep in the slums.
I really enjoyed getting to work on these projects, and I know that there will be many more to come. It’s true that when you believe in a cause, it makes the work easy and joyful.
Sara Beth Parks is a designer, Southern girl, and lover of all things beautiful, currently writing of her journey with art, design, and life on this blog, “My Latest Buzz.”