Teenage Artist Uses Talent to Help Children

09/26/14

Fourteen-year-old Peter Jacobsen found himself pondering an exciting new question—how do I want to spend my paycheck? His answer is as unique as his job. 

Peter works part-time as a glassblower for Hilltop Artists in Tacoma, Washington, creating everything from glass beads to vases. He wanted to use a portion of his paycheck to help children in need, so he decided to do something that’s been on his mind for quite a while—sponsor a child.
 
                               Peter learned how to blow glass three years ago through a class at school.
 
Peter’s story really begins three years ago, when he and his family took an extended vacation in the Dominican Republic. As part of their trip, the family spent 10 days serving children who attend Children of the Nations’ (COTN) schools. Peter and his sister led an art class for the students. 
 
What struck Peter during this experience was how joyful the children were. “I saw what they had compared to what I had,” Peter says. “But they were so cheerful and glad to be in the program.” 
 
“It was a really cool experience,” says Peter as he reflects on the time he spent in the Dominican Republic. His experience there continues to impact his life.
 
Peter wanted to find a way to continue helping the students he met in the Dominican Republic. He knew the promise of a daily meal through COTN is what kept many of the children in school. With this in mind, Peter organized an art show to raise money to send meals to the Dominican Republic. He invited student artists from surrounding schools to participate in the show, and together they raised enough money to purchase and package 5,000 meals. It was exactly what Peter had envisioned, kids helping kids. 
 
But Peter didn’t want to stop there. “Once I got my job I just had this realization that I could give some of this; that I don’t need all this,” he says. That’s when Peter learned about a 12-year-old boy named Rivaldo. 
 
Peter’s aunt met Rivaldo around the time Peter got his job, while working with a medical Venture Team in Haiti. Peter's aunt told him that Rivaldo had to wait all day for a chance to be seen by the doctor—a situation that would make almost anyone frustrated. But Rivaldo didn’t get angry. He sat patiently and was kind to the staff. Peter decided this was the child he wanted to sponsor. “I know that here I have a good life and I have everything I need,” says Peter. “But people in other third-world countries don't always have that. I think [for children] my age that could be really hard.”
 
                               Peter believes that kids don’t have to be limited by their age.
 
Peter wanted to cover Rivaldo’s sponsorship fees for the year. He made dozens of glass pumpkins and sold every last one of them. It wasn’t quite enough, so Peter pulled the rest of the money from his bank account.
 
“This [experience] showed me that I can change stuff, even as a kid,” says Peter. “I shouldn’t have to wait till I’m an adult to change things and help people.” 
 
 
For Peter, serving others is a lifestyle. “Start when you’re young and you don't have bills to pay,” says Peter. “I think when I'm an adult and I do have stuff to pay, this will be a part of me.”