Bob Hoyt’s kindheartedness didn’t hit me right away. I was too busy letting myself be intimidated by his political opinions and his business savvy. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been aware of his generosity since he and his wife invited me to live in their home for the duration of my APTP internship this summer. But it wasn’t until I heard him speaking in baby voice to his dog—as we shared a tub of mini peanut-butter cups—that I understood why he and Albany Park Theater Project were a perfect match.
You see, Bob has this amazing ability to connect with anyone: young, old, actor, businessman, and even dog. His interest in others explains why he’s so inspired by the intimate nature of the APTP model. And it’s precisely this care for others that has led Bob to become involved http://casinoin.us/ with the edifying work that APTP does with its youth ensemble members, its audiences, and the larger Chicago community.
"I decided that I want to have a profound impact on a place that is capable of having a profound impact on others."
After seeing his first APTP show, Bob grasped the profound impact achieved through the “discipline and collaboration skills learned via theater,” and was moved by the staff’s ability to steer Albany Park teens towards a good education and a brighter future. That was in 2001. For the past 13 years, Bob and his wife, Nancy, have been strong supporters of the company, both financially and emotionally. They’ve seen every show, and they’ve watched many generations of APTPians graduate high school and transition into great colleges around the country. In fact, APTP has become a part of the Hoyt’s family life: as Nancy explains, their two girls grew up joining their parents for APTP plays and came to “share our interest in theater, adolescent development, and the tough issues that APTP deals with.” This year, Bob’s personal involvement with APTP deepened when he joined the company’s Board of directors.
Bob’s connection with the Albany Park neighborhood began nearly 100 years ago, when his Jewish grandparents fled Ukraine, escaping a life of abuse and despair. Traveling on a freighter to America, they ended up in Albany Park, raising their first-generation American children in the neighborhood. Considering himself the beneficiary of his grandparents’ sacrifices and his parents’ hard work, Bob feels a “sense of duty to support the jewels of opportunity, albeit shrinking, where the American dream is still possible.” For him, APTP is one of these jewels.
Several years ago, when reviewing his support of other causes, Bob considered what mattered most to him: did he want to give a small amount to lots of different organizations, or did he want to find a philanthropic focus? “I decided that I want to have a profound impact on a place that is capable of having a profound impact on others,” he says of making APTP his anchor commitment. Presented with the opportunity to increase APTP’s positive effect on its community, Bob transitioned organically into his volunteer role as member of the board.
In talking about one of APTP’s more recent shows, I Will Kiss These Walls, Bob identified a hallmark of the company’s artistic work that most impresses him. “In a show about a crisis of foreclosure and what it was doing to their families, these teens made a point of showing that it was going on all over Chicago. It’s amazing that they were able to look at a problem that was larger than what is immediately around them.”
"It’s amazing that [APTP's youth artists] are able to look at a problem that is larger than what is immediately around them."APTP Board Member
When I ask Bob what he’s most excited about as the newest member of the APTP board, his face erupts into a coy grin, his eyes crinkling slightly at the corners: “Being a part of David’s Kitchen Cabinet,” he says, referring to APTP’s Producing Artistic Director, David Feiner. Inspired by the political term that describes a president’s most trusted advisers, Bob knows that he wants to help the organization’s growth and sustainability by bringing in new ideas and participating in the development of long-term strategy. He is so impressed with APTP’s ability to have a life-changing impact on teens in Albany Park that he’s become particularly invested in multiplying the organization’s transformative power, either through the development of a sister company, or by disseminating APTP’s core ideas and techniques in a way that gives them new life in other communities.
At the end of our conversation, Bob stands up to leave but not before shrugging his shoulders, throwing his hands in the air and saying “What can I say? I’m hooked!”