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Endowing Others with a Portfolio of Passions

On the way to lasting success and a life that matters, Builders embrace more than one passion and sometimes their passion becomes to endow others with their own portfolios. As a tenth grader living in inner-city Pittsburg, Bill Strickland saw dreams shattered daily and he felt a deep need to do something to get and give hope where there was none.

One day, he was walking past a classroom and something caught his eye that stopped him in his tracks. To hear him tell it, "—time stopped. It was a Wednesday afternoon and I was minding my own business and the door of the art room happened to be open, and I happened to look in. And there was this teacher named Frank Ross making a great big old ceramic bowl. I just stood there transfixed." It was like magic for him. Bill fell in love with ceramics, but the metaphor changed his life and tens of thousands of other at-risk kids and adults. As CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and the Bidwell Training Center, he has created extensive training programs and facilities in a world-class architectural setting where his passion for art feeds his passion for building a stronger community.

"Mothers and fathers instinctively know that the arts are the basis of good mental health and good intellectual development. When children are born, the mothers and fathers have them doing rhyming, they have them doing clapping, they have them singing, and they have them using crayons. All these creative things, instinctively, we know are the basis for good human development. When kids are 5 years old we take it away from them and we wonder why the kids are nuts 20 years later. My theory is that we need the arts as a part of our mental health."

Obviously, the arts are not the only passions you can use to enrich your life, but they have served as Strickland's unique way to give those in poverty the opportunity to believe in themselves and trust their portfolios of passions.

"You don't have to live a life of mediocrity; you don't have to live a life that has no positive outcome." If there is any such thing as balance, he said, art "is essential to the way that you create balance in life. The arts contribute to that part of the human vocabulary. And you take it away from people and it makes them sick."

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