Alyce Nash Memorial Scholarship
The Alyce Nash Memorial Scholarship is a separate entity from the John P. Urban Scholarship Fund and also separate from the Joseph M. Finnegan Scholarship Fund. Michelle Finnegan established each fund with sales of her art and books to immortalize her loved ones' memory.
More than any amount of money that could be given in the name of Alyce "Sandy" Nash, it is important to learn about the life of this truly amazing woman. Alyce "Sandy" Nash was one of the first female officers in the US military, serving during WWII. After the war, Sandy chose to study art in London. She studied with Henri Moore and moved to NYC to run art galleries with Anthony Perkins. Sandy also worked as the Secretary to the Board of the MacDowell Colony as well as working with several other artists and galleries before becoming curator of the Naples Philharmonic Galleries with Myra Daniels. Sandy would ultimately become the founding curator of the Naples Art Museum, later renamed the Baker Art Museum at Artis as the entire campus where the original building for the Philharmonic grew. Sandy worked into her 90s, surrounded by loved ones living fulfilling lives, far from the memories of war. It is my hope that all members of the military who still are sent to war can remember it is possible to learn a new skill that will open doors to entirely new worlds of love and joy.
When Michelle Finnegan moved to Naples in the mid 1990's it was somewhat of a fluke she met Alyce "Sandy" Nash. Michelle had left her friends and her job in MA to move to a community most people had never heard of. At the time, there were zero restaurants in Naples that remained open after 8:00pm. Most of the people the same age as Michelle worked in the restaurants that closed early. Michelle learned the people her age in Naples had never left Naples or some who had left Naples had never left the state of FL. The children of people still living in FL who went away to college did not return in the mid 1990s because there were very few jobs. Michelle had already gone to college and travelled to many different continents and missed meaningful conversations with people who also enjoyed similar topics such as art. While rebuilding her home, Michelle discovered new Florida creatures that led her to become a docent at the Conservancy and hoping to meet new people she also found a new job working in an office for a real estate developer. Her boss was so impressed with her work ethic (willingness to show up for work on time and actually work) as well as her ability to use a computer (which most people in the mid 1990s were still not using) that he asked if she had any friends he could give another job to at another property. Michelle told her boss she actually didn't have any friends because she had just moved to Naples but she had a mother who might like the opportunity to go out and meet new people.
Michelle's mother was so happy at the opportunity to sit in the manager's office and take messages for any of the residents who had a question. Alyce "Sandy" Nash and her dear friend Liz Jacob sought out the Manager while Michelle's mother was temporarily filling in and the rest is history. Michelle's mother began to chat with what became her friend new friends in Naples and invited Sandy and Liz to dinner to meet Michelle and Michelle's father. That one dinner turned into a weekly dinner gathering each Sunday for a delightful meal and usually eating pop corn while watching golf on tv and ensuing conversations with John P. Urban, Joseph M. Finnegan and Alyce "Sandy" Nash for over a decade. Sandy and John became like family to the Finnegans and Sandy introduced Michelle and her family to many of the greatest artists in the area at the time including Dale Chihuly, Robert Rauchenberg, Clyde Butcher and more. Sandy also encouraged Michelle to join Naples Art Association and nurtured Michelle's artistic talents with support from the vibrant community of art collectors that Naples was beginning to develop.
creating freedom rocks
Michelle went back to Boston briefly to coordinate educational programs for the Commonwealth of MA after successfully lobbying to name the Toll House Cookie as the MA State Cookie. She also produced her first film which she began writing as an undergrad. Michelle had flown back to MA with maps for the Neponset River Restoration Project and began a long process of working with MDC employees and multiple MA authorities to revitalize a 10 mile stretch of parkland. When Michelle returned to Naples, with media outlets following her and Houghton Mifflin pursuing her to publish the book version of her film, many of Naples non profit organizations asked Michelle to join their Board or help them with fundraising. Michelle organized the Prints of Freedom community wide fund raiser benefiting about a dozen local charities and donated boxes of books to a newly established community center named Grace Place. Hoping to inspire the children, Michelle was asked to speak to the children about what life was like as a working artist. Rather than lecture the children, Michelle wrote an allegory which she subsequently illustrated and published to establish a scholarship in Alyce Nash's name. The Naples Daily News partnered with Michelle, buying books for their Newspaper in Education program and running ads promoting the new scholarship fund. Multiple scholarships have been awarded in the name of Alyce Nash.
In 2011, Saks at Waterside Shops in Naples asked Michelle if she would be willing to choose 9 of her friends and join them as a model for Dior Thru the Decades because Vogue Magazine Fashion Editor was flying to Naples for a special event and proceeds for sales storewide could go to a charity of Michelle's choice. It was a huge moment for Michelle who created the cover art for "Creating Freedom Rocks" with collaged painted on pages of Vogue Magazine's Women's Power Issue with Sandra Bullock on the cover. Gulfshore Life Magazine ran ads in 2012 for a Kentucky Derby themed fundraiser to replenish the Alyce Nash Memorial Scholarship Fund because Alyce Nash enjoyed celebrating the Kentucky Derby in Michelle's home for many years. In 2013, Michelle did a book signing at the LA Times Festival of Books. After signing books on the campus of USC, Michelle stopped by the KKG house and donated another 50 books to the young women whose national philanthropy is Reading is Fundamental.
In 2016, the cover art for "Creating Freedom Rocks" won "Best in Show" for "Your Choice" at Naples Art Association, aka Naples Art and von Liebig.