A willingness to learn and serve

Hamline art professor Allison Baker shares her experience with the Free Arts program from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Twin Cities.


CT Ryan Photography

Allison Baker teaches sculpture in Hamline’s art department. She also volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities’ Free Arts program, assisting with art projects and mentoring children in high transitional phases. Photo courtesy of Hamline University

Sol Doyscher, Reporter

Hamline professor Allison Baker has been involved with the Free Arts program of Big Brothers Big Sisters Twin Cities for several months and has been incorporating her skills into the program through the Create Workshop that entails assisting with arts and crafts projects planned by the staff and mentoring children in high transitional phases.
“I should have a better story why [I got involved in Free Arts],” Allison Baker said. “I was planning on being a big sister so I emailed and chatted with some of the folks at Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was a little scared off by the time commitment at first.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national nonprofit that has been in operation for over one-hundred years. The organization’s mission is to support youth through mentoring.  The Twin Cities branch of Big Brothers Big Sisters is one of the most highly ranked in the country out of over three-hundred branches and has changed the lives of half a million children.
Baker was initially daunted by the time commitment, as Free Arts also has a mentorship program that involves weekly meetings with a child in order to build a long-lasting relationship. Baker chose to do a weekly Free Arts program that allows a wider reach.

“As I was chatting with the gentleman I was speaking to he said ‘hey, you may notice we have this program called the free arts that you may be interested in,’” Baker said. “He told me a little bit about it and I thought that sounded fantastic, and then someone from Free Arts called me and said ‘you would be a perfect fit, we absolutely need someone like you.’”
Baker notes that her involvement with Free Arts program was helped by her experience as an art professor.

“It was in my skill set and something I was interested in,” Baker said. “I am a member of the faculty honors council as well, and a pillar of university honors is commitment to community. I’m newer to Minnesota, and I had the bandwidth to do some volunteer work, as well as uphold what we teach in the university honors.”
Part of the job, interacting with children, is something Baker says requires certain values and skills.

“What folks need in order to volunteer with free arts is just an openness to be there,” Baker said. “You don’t need to be an art major, or a creative person. They do all of the legwork for you; you just need to be able to handle directions. So, a willingness to learn and a willingness to serve. I think flexibility is also really key. Always making sure they are having the best possible experience, and that it is a highlight of their week.”
If students want to get involved they should contact Professor Baker, or email thinkbig@bigstwincities.org to learn more about any of the other programs Big Brothers Big Sisters offers.