The best way to learn more about the Use Your Gift Foundation is to ask the founder, Sandy Ficca, about it directly. He will earnestly tell you it came to light and life shortly after he mentored a young singer/songwriter through her senior project at a Rogue Valley high school. Sharing his reflections on how much he enjoyed the experience with a friend who works at fundraising for non-profits and in particular, day care centers, she encouraged him to consider seeking his own non-profit 501 c 3 status to continue to provide mentoring to other aspiring performing artists.
Once the umbrella was firmly set in place, a formal board of directors assembled to help begin articulating a path forward. The first goal was to launch the development of funding for a state of the arts recording studio, no small endeavor given the construction cost along with the necessary technology. The first of what has become an annual benefit concert was conceived, implemented and staged at the Ginger Rogers Craterian Theater in the heart of downtown Medford, Oregon. The event was so remarkably successful that it has led to two more such concerts along with fund-raising initiatives that continue to this day.
The recording studio is now up and running and although it doubles as a commercial enterprise available for booking, it is primarily aimed at the mentoring of young talent who dream of becoming professionals in the performing arts. None of this would be of value without Sandy’s big heart. The pleasure he receives as the guiding mentor providing, advising and offering an educated start to young talent is the ultimate reward that keeps UYG a dynamic effort. Matching the passion of performers with his passion to see them excel is mutually gratifying, taking the entire experience to greater heights.
There is deep seriousness to UYG as well. When asked about the “music business” and to offer insight and definition to the industry, Sandy quotes Hunter S. Thompson. There is required restraint in coaching young talent that he refers to as a strange convergence of the artistic, creative individuals with the finance, business people that are part of the equation. Walking the line of encouragement while helping young people prepare for the pragmatic realities of the music industry, demands extreme sensitivity. It is part of the operational ethic that over revelation does not diminish the dream at all and the pure, innocent and super passionate essence of the young artists remains in tact.
The most recent highlight for UYG was the concert with the headliner Ambrosia. This was the first year that the openers for the sold out show were exclusively students of the program. There were even a couple of aspiring singer/songwriters in the wings for future mentoring. With the accomplishments and gratification that comes from seeing the results of the opportunity of young talent working with experienced professionals, Sandy and his wife and partner Sam look forward to continued success in helping fulfill dreams. Sandy says having Sam there to assist keeping the path clear and concise raises his confidence that they are doing good work the right way. And will continue to do so as long as new talent comes knocking on their door.