In times of crisis, quotes by Fred Rogers (from “Mr. Rogers”) tend to make a round on social media: “When I was a child and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Find a helper. You will always find someone who helps. ‘”
As news of the devastating fire in Australia continued to roll, this message resonated with BYU graphic design alumni Hannah Decker – but in her apartment on the other side of the world, she wasn’t sure how to be a helper.
“I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness and only wished that there was something I could do,” Decker said. “I don’t have much money that I can contribute, and it seems like I can’t get on a plane and take care of all the animals as I want.”
It didn’t take long for Decker to realize that he had two strong resources available to him: his own professional skills and the skills of his fellow designers, including a network of talented colleagues from his tenure in the BYU Design Department. He began reaching out to designers he knew personally or with work he admired, planting seeds for the Australia-Aid fundraising project.
“I have an idea to make many different artists design postcards, and we can make money that way,” Decker said. “I started sending messages to people on Instagram, asking if they would be interested in contributing postcards. Some people are shocking – I think many people feel as helpless as I am, and this is a platform for us to share our feelings through our artwork. “
This is the case for Adam Rallison, who has remained in touch with Decker since their 2017 BYU graduation.
“I have many friends in Australia, and I am heartbroken over the things they post online,” he said. “Fire does not affect me personally in my daily life, but they really affect me emotionally and mentally.”
While the nonprofit project – especially one of these spheres – is outside Decker’s comfort zone, he feels strengthened by the efforts of those around him. Decker hopes that this project inspires others to not only “look for helpers” in the dark, but also step into the role itself.
“I hope that people will find courage from this project,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are – you can make a difference. All you need is an idea. I hope people see that they are important and needed and that the decisions they make are important. “
“I really believe in kindness and generosity,” Rallison added. “Those are things that bring us to the best part of humanity. Whatever challenges we face, we can find a way through it. We just need to be kind, depend on one another, and be generous with whatever we can offer. “
Read more about Australia-Aid on the BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications website, http://cfac.byu.edu.