While Illinois State’s third annual Philanthropy Week has come to an end for this year, Wonsook Kim College of Fine Arts alumnus Carlo Lorenzo Garcia has come back (virtually, of course) to share his personal experience with philanthropy and how life after Illinois State University has made him who he is today. Garcia is the founder of the Living Philanthropic website where his mission is to #GiveEveryDay.
Garcia is a film, television, and theatre actor who has experience on both sides of the stage and has taken on almost every single role in the theatre world, including working as a stage manager, a director, an actor, a set builder, a scenic designer, and a sound designer. After leaving Illinois State, he worked at several theatres in Chicago, including Lookingglass Theatre Company and the Goodman Theatre. He also worked as a producing director at Mary-Arrchie Theater Company for eight years before moving to Austin, Texas.
In 2013, Garcia wrote an adaptation of Richard III that was produced in Chicago, which opened doors that allowed him to trust his initial writing process and go on to write his own web series Under Covers, one act and full-length plays, and a TV pilot.
“I got into writing from wanting to create my own stuff. To use my voice to create something that’s new and potentially exciting and something that’s never been done before,” Garcia shared.
Garcia is currently rewriting the his two-person play, Strange but Perfect, which will be produced in Austin in December, and his one act play, A Portrait of My Mother, will be live streamed through Jarrott Productions this May for Mother’s Day. He is also working on another live streamed performance of a play that was written by Spenser Davis specifically for Zoom called The Spin, which will be available in April through Street Corner Arts.
Not only does Garcia have an impressive track history in the theatre, he has been an adamant believer in giving back to the community. Philanthropy is something that he incorporates into his everyday life as best as possible.
His mission with his Living Philanthropic website started over ten years ago when he was helping with theatre fundraising efforts, participating in volunteer work, and donating his time and money to organizations that helped others in need.
“My goal was to make an impact. Giving has always been important to me, and I have always given. I have always donated money and donated my time.”
When he was working in Chicago, Garcia noticed how difficult it was for a lot of organizations to raise money. During conversations with friends, they would share how they felt that they did not have anything to give. Garcia questioned the idea that you had to give a lot in order for it to mean something.
“It’s not about how much you can donate or how much time, as long as you give something.”
In the beginning of his mission, in about 2010, he made sure to share his goals and messages through Facebook and Twitter, which is how he gained a sense of followers and involved more people. His plan was to chronicle a year of giving by donating to one organization every day for an entire year. He posted daily on social media and brought attention to each organization that he donated to, providing opportunities for others to donate to those organizations as well.
“There was this idea of ‘micro-philanthropy,’ where it’s about the small donations. It wasn’t as highlighted back then as it is now. Nowadays, people have embraced that a little bit more. These things have grown a little bit.”
In 2011, Garcia made “Cyber Giving Monday” (#CyberGivingMonday), the Monday after Black Friday, trend on Twitter and asked people who had previously donated to involve others. The idea was that together we can make an impact, we can amplify the message. His personal goal was to donate to 24 charities, one every hour, for 24 hours. Things took off a bit, there was some media coverage, and several organizations benefited from the day. This act of giving inspired the creation of “Giving Tuesday,” another trend on social media that is recognized globally and has been growing since 2012.
By 2012, when his mission was starting to grow into full swing, Garcia made the choice to donate to one charity each month. Each month he conducted fundraisers with other organizations, worked with companies through matching gift programs, and involved many people who he had previously connected with to bring awareness to the organizations that he featured on the Living Philanthropic website.
Garcia is still giving, it’s just not as public as it was at that time because giving, donating, and raising money are much more accentuated activities now than it was before. It’s not about fame or recognition, it’s about spreading the word, getting more people involved and aware, and just being kind to others.
“It can start with one person, one idea—if you gather the people to go along with you, you can make a change—make an impact to do good.”
Learn more about Carlo Lorenzo Garcia’s upcoming live streamed performances A Portrait of My Mother, and The Spin, and visit the “Living Philanthropic” website where YOU can take part in Philanthropy Week every day!