PRLog - May 7, 2011 - Two national youth leadership projects impacted hundreds of cities across America, the first for substance abuse in 1990, in cooperation with the National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information (today CSAP),  and the second for community service in 1993, in cooperation with the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger and twenty national organizations.  Efforts to address the vast unmet needs revealed during these projects, led to the formation of the nonprofit organization Humanitarian Resource Institute (HRI)  in 1994.
As an athlete, coach of arts, sports and Olympic development programs and graduate of the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts Professional Program, [4,5] Stephen Michael Apatow  had an interest in connecting with a broader spectrum of youth. Both projects encompassed a daily physical challenge, combined with speaking engagements, town meetings and press conferences in hundreds of cities across America. Today, the many challenges and lessons learned, are the focus of his U.S. and international leadership initiatives. The importance of this discussion relates to the current spectrum of challenges facing communities across America today, and in 192 United Nations member countries, that are striving to recover from the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Before forming HRI, while on return flight to the West Coast, Stephen was fortunate enough to sit next to one of the attorneys from the Nixon Library. When asked what guidance, this legal council had, regarding the formation of HRI, his advice was direct and pointed, "keep your board small and mission focused." He noted the nightmare associated with too many board members, many with their own agendas, leaving little room for progress.
The next person who significantly impacted the development of HRI was mentor Dr. Ralph Swisher, Director of the Community and Family Preparedness program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), formerly with the Department of Justice and member of the National Association of Scholars. His advice was also direct and pointed, "As the executive director, don't focus on fundraising and grants as your primary operational task, keep your focus on the mission of the organization."
During the 1993 Community Service Project, the focus in 133 cities from Washington, DC to San Francisco California was to provide a platform for executive directors of front line service programs, so they could share about the size and scope of needs in their area. This mission focus was to "Bridge Unmet Needs to Untapped Resources," to assist strategic planning and development of projects to fill any gaps. The tragedy, in many cases, was that communication, in our advanced technological age, was the single variable that stood between, the unmet needs in those communities and a public response.
The first major project of HRI was named "Focus On America," and with the help of FEMA, HRI was able to network to the directors of the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Programs in approximately 3000 counties, in all 50 states. The objective of the project was to establish an Unmet Needs Coordinator in each city, who would (1) serve as a contact point for all front line service programs, (2) establish an email and fax communication network that would reach all churches, youth leadership programs, central school districts, businesses, corporations and the media in that area and (3) communicate quarterly unmet needs reports.
Though effectively networked, HRI soon learned that there was resistance against the mission objectives of the project. The first came from churches, while working with the national leaders of interfaith organizations, who were asked to help communicate information on the project down to the grassroots level. The challenge, "there was no interest in the development of any communication network that would reach the constituencies of the local churches, that was outside of their control," even if they were regarding the unmet needs in those communities. In time, umbrella organizations for nonprofits and community leaders shared the same sentiment. On the nonprofit level, HRI learned that threats, regarding funding, were even held over the heads of numerous executive directors of frontline programs, who considered participation with the initiative. Understanding the scope of political challenges and agendas, behind the scenes, encompasses the type of support system needed for the development of humanitarian initiatives, today.
2010 marked 20 years of dedication to humanitarian relief efforts and policy development by Stephen Michael Apatow, though around the year 2000, his interest once again refocused on the arts, music, composition and production. In the late 2000's, he expanded these efforts as an artist/publisher with American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) as an artist member of the Country Music Association. It was from this transition that the HRI "Arts Integration Into Education" focus evolved, leading to the development of the United Nations Arts Initiative.  The focus, utilizing artists, who have the innovation, creativity and a connection with the grassroots level as the bridge, to lead U.S. and international humanitarian relief efforts and policy development.
2010 marked the release of his first album entitled "Country Goes Global." Reflecting upon "the cost of putting your life on the line to help the needy, rich and poor," the lead soundtrack is "The American Way," and in dedication to the troops, the compilation includes "Special Forces Prayer" and "The Soldiers Tear."
For addition information on the album, visit:
Country Goes Global: AirPlay Direct for broadcast quality digital access for television and radio (listen only public access). Url: http://airplaydirect.com/
CDBaby: For purchase of the digital album. Url: http://www.cdbaby.com/
also available on iTunes.
All proceeds from this project support the work of HRI and Arts Integration Into Education, through the United Nations Arts Initiative.
1. 1990 NCADI Project: Url: www.cycleacrossamerica.org
2. 1993 National Campaign for Community Service: Url: www.runacrossamerica.org
3. Humanitarian Resource Institute: Url: www.humanitarian.net
4. Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts: Url: www.nutmegconservatory.org
5. International Dancescience Development Program: Url: www.edancescience.org
6. Stephen Michael Apatow: Founder, Director of Research and Development for Humanitarian Resource Institute and the United Nations Arts Initiative. Url: www.apatow.org
7. HRI: United Nations Arts Initiative: Url: www.unarts.org
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Humanitarian Resource Institute United Nations Arts Initiative: Promoting the arts as a vehicle for solution oriented strategic planning and development across the globe.