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Nonprofit art center in Anoka delivers affordable classes while giving back to community

Communities that KARE takes us to Anoka, where we're stopping by a nonprofit art center designed to open up new worlds of creativity for families.

ANOKA, Minn. — What makes good art? The pros say there should be technique, concept, and newness. But, after visiting the kids at the Rumriver Art Center in Anoka, the answer is obvious: Good art should excite!

Our photographer watched as a little boy created a clay version of Super Mario World. As for the child's favorite scene to make, "It's when Mario blows up the entire planet, 'cause why not?!"

Creativity like that ultimately led Susan Yee and her husband Larry to leave their corporate jobs and open the Rumriver Art Center, now an official nonprofit. "As you get older, you say, 'What have I done? What am I doing? How can I give back?' I think that's what the art center has done for us; that's our passion behind it," said Yee.

Over the years, new ideas for Rumriver's programs poured out. There are murals and summer camps that can accommodate hundreds of children. There are also different activities for the grown-ups to unwind. "We have a yoga class, tai chi type class. We do parties. And one of my favorite things we started this year was a community garden for the neighborhood," said Yee.

As much as the neighborhood receives, volunteers find a way to give back, including helping raise beds, plant seeds, and water the garden daily.

Rumriver Art Center's nonprofit status makes what could be costly classes affordable. "We have a kids art night where you can drop your child off for $5.00 for two hours, and they can do art. Where can you do that? Nowhere. You can't even get a babysitter for $5.00 for 15 minutes, let alone two hours on a Friday night," explained Yee.

The kids learn to create and cultivate a sense of belonging. "I think the kids love it here. They feel comfortable, they know they can come here, they can be themselves; there's no judgment," said Yee.

Do you know someone who is making a difference, or is there a business or nonprofit going above and beyond to help others? Send us your ideas for stories of "Communities that KARE" in the form below:

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