When a student in a guitar class of Jim Van Arsdale ’08 suggested that they sponsor a concert to raise money for a fellow student’s medical expenses, the fifth-grade teacher at Millard Fillmore Elementary School in Moravia, N.Y., agreed. And so was born, Perform 4 Purpose.
Since that initial concert, Central New York students and veteran performers have hosted dozens of fundraisers and contributed more than $20,000 to local people in need. The nonprofit group, run by Van Arsdale and his daughter, Jen Van Arsdale M’16, has expanded into four after-school programs in two school districts in Cayuga County and a summer camp, all of which culminate with a charity concert.
Through mostly donated musical instruments, the Van Arsdales and a core group of 10 fellow volunteers provide musical instruction, concert bookings and performance support to the students. The group covers its costs through private donations and has recently started applying for grants.
“Seeing our student-driven shows never gets old,” Jim Van Arsdale says. “I love watching these young performers on stage in front of the audience, and they really feel good about themselves. Not only are they performing, they’re learning to be altruistic in the process by sharing their gift to help others. Whatever your talent, use it to uplift your community.”
Van Arsdale knows firsthand the power of sharing something you love. He left a profitable business management career to attend SUNY Oswego and become a teacher.
“It was a risky decision for me, as I had a family to support and a mortgage to pay,” he says. “But it turned out to be the most rewarding choice I could have made.”