We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Dergar and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michael, do you have a budget? How do you make lifestyle and spending decisions?
Hi, as you all people who follow my mission of Inclusion and art know that I Paint to Help! My personal mission of inclusion is founded by my personal finances. I mostly donate all of my proceeds to support the more vulnerable communities in Mexico and USA. Currently we are building a collaboration with a good friend of mine and a wonderful artist from Colombia, Dory Perdomo to continue with mission but mostly to help to make a more inclusive society also in Colombia. Talking about our foundation, The Academy of Special Dreams at www.specialacademy.org our mission of inclusion is to bring public awareness and recognition to the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing and opportunity and venues to promote and showcase their artistic expression. Thanks to the generosity of many supporters on our mission inclusion, including friends and families and companies, we are able to fulfill our mission.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
For the last 22 years I dedicated my professional life supporting in the non profit field and special education at AUSD. All of my experience in the special education department helped me to understand the need of our community with disability and to be more sensitive but most of all to learn to appreciate people in general. As an artist, I am extremely lucky that my artwork has been shown in many art exhibition locally and internationally and thanks to my art collectors I can continue to support many. It was not easy to get where I am now. It was a long journey, working many hours trying to teach our society about our Comminity in need. Bringing public awareness of our artists with disabilities is a daily challenge. I believe in helping the most vulnerable communities! My mission includes educating the larger society that disability is a natural part of the human experience. I strive for the day that having a disability willin no way diminish the right of anyone to live independently, free of discrimination or bias, to enjoy self-determination, to pursue a meaningful career, to contribute to society, and to be part of a loving family

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well, California is a beautiful state. The Los Angeles areas has many beautiful places to visit as well as San Diego. My friends and family enjoy the beautiful Pasadena. I live there so I really know all about it but also as a long term visitors I really enjoy taking them to the Central Valley to the foothills of the Secoya National Park. There are beautiful cities like Exeter, California and many other that have a lot to offer. For eating, wow! I eat everything but I prefer Asian cousin. To hang out at L A Life or Santa Monica is fun! To visit our beautiful museums and galleries in LA. I really recommend for people to visit Pasadena Ca. What a beautiful City!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It is always a pleasure to give thanks to all mentors like Helen Woo and my friends and family! They always stood next to me to support. This year is our 10 year anniversary since we open officially as a non profit organization to support our community with disabilities . I really recognized and appreciate from everyone that supported us in these 10 years! I want to give special thanks to Woo Education Foundation and The ALHAMBRA and The RATKOTVICH Company for believing in creating a more inclusive society by supporting me and our foundation to have physical gallery space to showcase the talented artwork of our artists with disabilities to be recognize but mostly to empower artists regardless of their disabilities. Thank you Jerry Ruiz, Megan Moloughney and Helen Woo for believing in us but most of all for supporting our mission of inclusion.

Website: www.michaeldergar.com. And. www.specialacademy.org
Instagram: https://instagram.com/michaeldergar?igshid=1fh9fafsl8tk6
Linkedin: Michael Dergar Academy of Special Dreams Foundation
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dergarmichael?s=21
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/specialacademy
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/specialacademy2009

Image Credits
Pictures taken by Jerry J Ruiz.

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