A REDESIGNED LIFE

By Janet Kornblum for USA TODAY

Most people think innovation belongs to a younger generation.
“I don’t believe that,” says Barbara Chandler Allen after a long day of making presentations about the organization she founded and runs. >>
Janet Kornblum

Barbara Chandler Allen’s organization raises funds for school art programs.
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At 62, Allen finds herself working more than full-time on Fresh Artists, a nonprofit that turns kids’ art into money that is then funneled back into urban public schools. “I think older people can be much, much stronger innovators if given the encouragement to do so,” she says. In fact, it wasn’t until she was 60 that Allen founded the nonprofit. It wasn’t quite an accident. But it wasn’t quite planned out, either. The whole thing began back in 2005 when a school district in Philadelphia asked her and her son, Roger Allen, to decorate its 850,000-square-foot building with children’s art.

She should know.

Her son came up with idea of transforming children’s art—the colorful kind parents like to tape to the fridge—into giant digital images. They hung those pictures throughout the building, brightening the austere space and reminding people that the school district served the kids and not the other way around. From time to time someone would ask if they could buy the prints. Then one day a vendor “came upon us in the hallway and said, ‘Oh my God. This is gorgeous. I have to have one of these.’ ” “We said for the 400th time, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not for sale.’ He said, ‘How about if I make a donation and you take the money and go buy art

supplies for some kids?’” Allen and her son pondered the idea over coffee and decided it was brilliant. Fresh Artists was born. It works pretty much the way the vendor suggested: Fresh Artists gets art from the children. With the approval of the children and their guardians, the art is digitally photographed. The originals are returned to the children. The digital photographs can then be transformed into large, high-resolution prints. In turn, those who want the art make a donation to Fresh Artists. The money goes directly back into buying art supplies. In turn, a strapped school district gets the kind of art supplies it

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“Fresh Artists is a way for people to see the invisible children in our community and see them for children and people who have promise, who have purpose, who can learn, who are capable of really great things.”
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Trend-Setting 55+ Neighborhood In Lancaster County Nestled in a region rich with Pennsylvania Dutch traditions in the heart of Lancaster County is a new, trend-setting neighborhood with the feel of a simpler time thought to be long gone – a place where the architecture is inviting, and the approach to life is simple, friendly and laid back. Welcome to Home Towne Square, a Landmark Homes 55+ Arts & Crafts neighborhood in Ephrata. Although the neighborhood is new, the values behind Home Towne Square are not. The Arts & Crafts movement made its way to America in the late 19th century. Then, as now, homes that best represent the Arts & Crafts style have prominent t features like front porches, ornate wood details and windows that allow in natural light. The homes at Home Towne Square do not deviate from this ideal, and Landmark has included many “simplistic-living” details into each. Front porches are a characteristic of every home as is an abundance of windows to maximize the amount of sunlight flowing inside. To meet the requests of today’s 55+ buyer, each home is a one-story or features a first floor owner’s suite. A striking characteristic of Home Towne Square is the curb appeal. Alleyways allow homes to have rear-entry garages, keeping the focus on the beautiful exterior design. Additionally, Landmark uses a variety of textures, materials and colors ors ors on the exteriors, mirroring the architectural appeal of the Arts & Crafts style homes. What often surprises those not from Lancaster County is how close Home Towne Square is to places thought to be much h further away. One of the draws is its proximity to metropolitan areas like New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Though it is common to see Amish buggies trotting along the roads of Ephrata, there is a vibrant cultural side to Lancaster County, too. Home Towne Square is easily accessible to the region’s best cultural attractions, historical sites, shopping, wineries, and outdoor recreation. Street fairs, festivals and concerts give the area year-round pizzazz. Home Towne Square is a maintenance-free neighborhood. Snow removal, mowing and landscaping are all part of the overall experience of living here. There are acres of open space and miles of walking trails, and a community center is planned for 2011 that will include a pool and other amenities and gathering places. Beyond the Arts & Crafts architecture, the onsite amenities, the maintenance-free lifestyle, and the convenient location, perhaps the most significant aspect of Home Towne Square is the builder behind the neighborhood. Landmark Homes, with roots in Ephrata, is an established and well-respected, family owned and operated company. Who better to execute something authentic than a builder who is authentic? Visit Landmark Homes at Home Towne Square today. The furnished model at Home Towne Square is located at 322 Home Towne Blvd in Ephrata, PA 17522. That home and three other models are open Mon, Tue, Thur, and Fridays 11 – 5 Wednesdays 1-5 and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 – 4. Contact Kelly Bricker at 717-286-6698, or email at Kellyb@ownalandmark.com for more information or visit www.ownalandmark.com.

otherwise could not afford. But Allen, who has been an administrator at major art museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Harvard University’s Peabody Museum, stresses that it’s not just about the art supplies. It’s also about empowering the children by turning them into philanthropists, Allen says. “It brings visibility—quite literally—to kids who are often ignored,” she says. That’s especially true with the art that hangs in
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corporate offices. “Fresh Artists is a way for people to see the invisible children in our community and see them for children and people who have promise, who have purpose, who can learn, who are capable of really great things.” Founded in Philadelphia, the organization is beginning to expand to cities like Washington, D.C. and Boston. Allen has hopes it will go national. Since it was founded in 2008, the

nonprofit has installed 670 largeformat reproductions and donated art supplies worth more than $100,000 to 272 Philadelphia public schools, reaching more than 53,400 children Allen recently won a $50,000 Purpose Prize, an award that aims to recognize social innovators over 60. She doesn’t see her work as work. “It’s a mission.” And she highly recommends passion-seeking for anyone. “There’s a freedom in this stage of your life. Part of the thing

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about getting older is a kind of what-the-hell attitude. I’m probably not going to be alive more than 15 more years. This is my time to try something—to take the sum of the knowledge and experience of my life and take all of those threads and weave something new together.” Allen has advice for anyone contemplating their last years. She advises them to ask: “What is the thing that you love more than anything? It might be grooming your dog. It could be anything. Find something for the last 10 or 12 years to do while you still have the energy and the health. Design your life.” That’s just what Dana Freyer did. Freyer also won a $50,000 Purpose Prize for the work she’s doing as the co-founder of the Global Partnership for Afghanistan, a nonprofit organization that has helped 12,000 rural Afghans plant 8 million trees in 12 provinces since 2003. Freyer, 66, and a former corporate attorney, first fell in love with Afghanistan in 1972 when she and her husband took a year off, bought a Volkswagen Beetle, and drove through the country. Back then the country was filled with old-growth forests, farms, fruit orchards, and vineyards. Trees fueled the Afghan economy. But the idea for the organization didn’t come until years later—well after the country was devastated by the 1979 Soviet invasion and ensuing years of conflict—when Freyer was working as a corporate attorney in

Times Square with a view of Ground Zero. “After 9/11 I watched the smoke from the ashes of Ground Zero,” she says. “I would look on my wall where I had pictures of Afghanistan from our 1972 trip. And every day I asked myself, ‘How can I help Afghanistan move from being an incubator of terrorists to a responsible nation with a viable economy as it had been in the past—as the Afghanistan that I knew? How can we help Afghans who took lost everything rebuild their lives?’ ” She began exploring answers to those questions with her husband and Afghan friends who had emigrated to New York to escape the wars. It wasn’t until 2003 that she and her husband took a second trip to Afghanistan. There, they confirmed their view that “the greatest need was for the 80 percent of the population who had previously relied on farming to develop a sustainable farm income,” she says. They met directly with Afghan farmers and village elders in an area that had been destroyed. They told her they could rebuild the schools and buildings but that wouldn’t provide the kind of sustainable income that rebuilding orchards, woodlots, vineyards, and nurseries would. They told her, “Our homes have been destroyed. Our schools have been destroyed. Our clinics have been destroyed. But without incomes and jobs what will our people be able

Dana Freyer’s nonprofit works with rural Afghans to alleviate poverty

“What could be better? What could be more exciting? So I wake up every day just charged to get going and to do more. And the needs are endless."
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to do with education?” So Freyer and her husband launched Global Partnership for Afghanistan in 2004. For several years she worked two full-time jobs. She was working as an international lawyer and arbitrator while running the nonprofit. Eventually, she decided she needed to dedicate herself full-time to the business of restoring Afghanistan’s tree-based economy. “It wasn’t any longer fair for me to be trying to do two jobs.” That’s why she now says she didn’t so much retire as she “reallocated” her time. Now she spends 40 to

60 hours a week working at the nonprofit. And she says she’s “the lucky one.” “I see a lot of people nearing retirement who are struggling because they don’t know what they’re going to do. I was more fortunate than other people approaching retirement. I developed a passion and a goal and a business while I was still working. “It just became more and more exciting and exhilarating and fulfilling and interesting for me. What I’m doing now has brought all my interests together. I’ve always been

interested in international affairs. I’ve always been interested in Afghanistan. Now I find myself with the energy, the health, and interest to pursue these interests and to make a difference in the world. “What could be better? What could be more exciting? So I wake up every day just charged to get going and to do more. And the needs are endless. But I also feel and believe that Afghans, with the right form of assistance, can restore their country. As long as I’m living and breathing and healthy and able to help Afghanistan move in that direction, this is what I will be doing.” n
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