Investing My Life and Passion

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In 2014, I was working in Real Estate in Northern California. A close friend invited me to travel to Guatemala with him to teach art to at-risk children. I instantly fell in love with the country, the people, and the mission of Athentikos. After the trip, I decided to fully invest my passion in the mission, because I saw its power firsthand. It totally changed my life. Since 2014, I’ve taught at-risk children music and visual arts. In 2017, I focused on storytelling through video production. Over the last 4 years, I participated in 7 Guatemalan camps and 4 domestic projects, and it has been absolutely marvelous!

[/vc_column_text][mk_gallery images=”9303,9304,9305,9306,9307,9308,9309,9310″ column=”4″ height=”280″ disable_title=”true” visibility=”hidden-sm”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1519317100941{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]2017 was an amazing year! Athentikos helped transform the lives of over 600 kids, 50 adults, and 100 volunteers. We collaborated with 5 different partner organizations in Guatemala and the US, including orphanages, refuge homes for at-risk youth, churches, and inner-city ministries. I stepped outside my comfort zone and lived in Guatemala for 2 months during the fall of 2017, to prep for the camps and explore new potential partners in mission. I took on even greater responsibilities, working directly on every instance of the 2017 programming, and directing two separate video projects, one at each of the fall camps.[/vc_column_text][mk_gallery title=”Viaje A Nibirus” images=”9315,9314,9313,9312″ column=”4″ disable_title=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1519317329496{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

At the Casa Bernabé camp, I led a workshop around the art of filmmaking. It was so inspiring to watch the children come up with their roles and content. When writing their screenplay, they decided on a suspenseful mood, and set the story on a faraway planet named Nibirus. Nibiru, by definition, is a supposed cataclysmic planetary event. The kids at Casa Bernabé named their wonderful short film’s imaginary planet after it. We walked through every step of production, from concept, to writing, to filming, and editing. The kids had a blast, and honestly, so did I! Here’s the result of all of our hard work. I am proud to present this short film to you on behalf of the children from the Casa Bernabé Orphanage.

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At the Oasis Camp, I worked with another Athentikos team member, Kati Korosuo, who is a dancer. We came up with the idea of documenting a dance choreography video from the sky with a drone. The idea was similar to synchronized swimming, but on a soccer field with the perspective of a bird. Kati is an extraordinary dancer and worked well with instructing the girls. They worked out their choreography step by step and I captured the process with the drone, making sure the shots were as uniform as possible. It was fun to watch the process, and even more fun to celebrate with the kids during the art show by watching the edited video! The video below is a portion of the project. Due to security concerns for the girls at the home, I have edited this from its original form to blur the faces of the children.

[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1519318156681{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]These two projects continue to inspire me because they document the creativity and spirit of children who have painful pasts, but are celebrating their true identity as art of the Great I AM. These children carry traumatic memories, but these projects helped them build confidence, pride, and genuine joy … joy that overflowed to everyone around them.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text title=”Where Am I Going?” css=”.vc_custom_1519318237009{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Join me on this journey!  In 2018, we are leading 4 camps in Guatemala to continue the work of investing love and creativity into these youth that come from such struggle. You can make a difference by bringing your creative talents to work on projects with children and show them potential that no one believed was possible. Check out the link below to learn all the details![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_btn title=”Click Here To Learn About I Am Art 2018!” color=”sky” align=”center” link=”||target:%20_blank|”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”I Need Your Help!” txt_align=”center” add_button=”bottom” btn_title=”Click Here To Support Me” btn_color=”danger” btn_size=”lg” btn_align=”center” btn_link=”||target:%20_blank|”]In 2018, we are operating at a critical level on funds. I need your support to continue building out the programming and administrating the opportunities that we want to bring to the children of Guatemala. As a nonprofit, we depend on donations from people like you. Please consider becoming a sustaining donor by creating a monthly gift. Even $20 a month can make a huge difference for our nonprofit. We’ll recruit over 50 artists and serve over 600 children of this beautiful country. Help us bring art and healing to the orphans and abused children in Guatemala! Click the link below to give a tax-deductible donation to my campaign, to raise funds for my mission with Athentikos in 2018![/vc_cta][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][mk_image src=”” frame_style=”rounded” title=”2017 Casa Bernabe” align=”center”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Casa Bernabe 2017 Was A Huge Success!

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The Best Yet … REALLY

In October, we returned to the Casa Bernabé orphanage in Guatemala to heal through creative arts. This was our third collaboration with Casa Bernabé, and our I AM ART team led 9 workshops for 100 Guatemalan children during the weeklong camp. We picked up where we left off last year, and guided children into deeper understanding of themselves in God’s greater story or redemption.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1511210350588{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]Check out this amazing photo montage from our storyteller, Emily Coffee with Sweet Justice Photography!

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I led a filmmaking workshop (a first for I AM ART) and guided the kids through producing a short engaging story. We wrote a script together about a group of teenagers who were running from their fears. In the end, the teens had to trust in the sacrifice of a stranger to be saved. The kids took on roles of acting, camera, sound, and even editing. In five days, we produced a short film, and showcased it to everyone at our Art Show on Saturday. The kids were so proud of their accomplishment! It was such a blessing to help lead these kids in a new creative endeavor that taught them a deeper lesson.I was reminded again of the power of creative arts in telling a story that leads to healing. It really is overwhelming. Every year, I leave camp thinking we’ve reached the top of the experience, that there is no way future camps could top what we’ve done before. And, each time I am wholly surprised with the result. It just keeps getting better and better!

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My heart is so invested in this community of people. As I have spent more and more time in Guatemala, I am certain that I am in the right place to use my talents to heal others and experience healing myself. Athentikos is at a crucial point in its organizational life. We have been presented with multiple opportunities to make great impact here in Guatemala, the United States, and other countries, but we need your help. I have decided to stay in Guatemala during the interim period between our two fall camps this year to visit other potential organizations that have requested we bring this program to them. I am so excited over the potential of our work here. However, in order to continue, we need your help. If you feel that the stories that you read here are important and the impact we are making is the type of work that you could see yourself participating in, please sign up for a volunteer opportunity, donate your money, or come to Guatemala and experience this great journey of healing with us!

Please consider giving to Athentikos’ programming by using this link: Donate Here

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Investing Love in Nashville’s Inner City

This blog was written by Athentikos’ own David Lee, who has been a key player in the development and execution of our Summer 2017 IAA camps at Front Porch Ministry. 

As I reflect on the first three domestic I Am Art events and we head into our art show, I am very grateful to be a part of what is happening in Nashville.  Front Porch Ministry has been a blessing to partner with and the work that they are doing cannot be understated.  The community they serve has a population of kids that have great potential.  Thom and Michele are truly investing into these kids with love.  Watching the family operate and the relationships they have with the kids there is a beautiful thing.  Their work is truly a work of compassion.

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The projects that we have put on so far have brought together local artists and inner city kids. This is opening channels of communication from the far reaches of the county all the way to downtown.  The stories I was originally told about the neighborhood we have been working in were somber and detailed a hardened community but as I met more and more people that lived there I saw hope and grace that was being cultivated around the literal front porch of Thom and Michele’s house.

The mural was our first splash into this community and that is exactly what it became.  We played water games and painted our way through the heat of Nashville’s June until we completed a 24 foot long mural!  We cannot thank local artist Ellie Caudill enough for the time and talent that she invested in the lives of these children and in the beauty of this neighborhood.  Our first camp was with a smaller group and consisted of an abstract self portrait workshop led by other local artists, Lauren Dunn and our own Amelia Moore.  We were able to focus deeply into individual friendships and develop long lasting relationships.  I think that these projects have truly made an impact in the children’s lives and we look forward to displaying these works at the end of the summer.  

The conversations that we have around creating these art pieces always explore the theme of how we handle conflict in our lives.  Having these conversations in Guatemala for the last three years presented an interesting juxtaposition to the inner city Nashville neighborhood, however, the result remains the same. Grace presents us with the path to ultimately resolve the conflict in our lives and this journey can be done with creativity and community! We just completed our last Nashville I Am Art camp that ran from July 20-22 and we ask that you pray for our Art Show tomorrow on July 28th. The art show is such a pivotal part of our camps as it brings our young artists a sense of pride in their gifts from God. It is the perfect ending to this beautiful story of I AM ART.

Reward is in the Art Itself

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]David Lee taught a music workshop in Athentikos: I Am Art Fall 2014, and learned that, “the reward was the art itself, manifested through the children.”

Please watch and share … and help us empower at-risk children through I Am Art in 2015 for as little as $17 / month –

I Am Art Guatemala Fall 2014 was a HUGE success!

Athentikos partnered with CMT and Hope for Guatemala to empower at-risk children in zone 18 of Guatemala City, a red zone known for crime and gang violence.

We built upon 5 years of previous camps to develop a curriculum called “Discovering your story”, that explores authenticity in community. Our goal was to empower these children to see themselves as beautiful art of the I AM, filled with purpose in God’s greater story. This video highlights major themes of the week.

Our goal is to help each child find the art within so they can change the way they view the world around them. This changes their course. This changes their community. This changes EVERYTHING.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Excited, Nervous, But Mostly Excited to Empower Through Creative Arts

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Excited, somewhat nervous, but mostly excited to empower through creative arts.

That’s how I would describe my pre-trip status. I am constantly reminding myself that I am not in control, constantly thinking “Its not about me.” I see evidence all of the time that there is a bigger plan in place and I trust in that. I have been on several mission trips and been to foreign countries multiple times but something feels different about this trip. It feels like this time, its more real. It’s hard to believe that I will be in Guatemala soon. About a year and a half ago, I moved to California. I found myself in a city of 1,000,000 people and felt the most alone I have ever been. On top of that I was 3 days by car to any place I had previously lived. I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to reach out and find a community that I could be of some use or at the very least a group of people where I wasn’t constantly introducing myself. Athentikos found me during this time. Paul Lowder, which was a band mate and friend, invited me to join up. After researching the organization and watching their documentaries, it became clear to me that this was an effort that I could support and this was my way to plug in to a new community where I could do some good. Who knew that I would find the people on the Internet and the place in another country? It’s a reminder that God is not bound by geography and his plan for us can’t be predicted.

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This team didn’t really know me me but took me in as their own to shine hope to a group of youth in Guatemala.

That’s beautiful to me. I have been working hard lately trying to develop a plan to engage with the children that will encourage them and I find that the more that I think about it, the more I get excited about what’s in store for them and me this November.

Please pray for us as we take this journey and if you can, please help us raise funds for all the logistical needs of putting on an Art Camp in Central America.

Peace and Love and Thanks, David

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