The Joy of Volunteering

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This picture was created by one of our volunteers after her first experience working with elders in an Art for The Journey art class.

Art for The Journey promotes the healing and well-being of children and adults through creative expression — focusing on people who do not normally have such experiences available to them — and we make extensive use of volunteers in all our programs. Some are artists, but many are simply people who have discovered the joy of helping others.

Generosity and human connectedness resides at the core of our being. It feeds us, heals us and contributes to a sense of purpose in our lives.

Our volunteers go the the women’s prison in Goochland, the Carmel School in Ruther Glen, Marywood (apartment complex for low income elderly and disabled) and St. Mary’s Woods (an assisted living facility) in Richmond. They also assist in adult studio classes and children’s art camps. Each of these programs is a little different, but the outcomes are the same. Through the sharing of art and personal engagement we create special communities of peace, creativity and wellbeing.

In March we implemented a program cited as a national best practice: Opening Minds Through Art (OMA). Developed out of the Scripps Gerontology Institute, the program uses specially certified facilitators, selected art materials and young trained volunteers (Virginia Commonwealth University Students). The young volunteers engage elders who are suffering from demential and Alzheimers in a one-on-one experience through which the elder “artist” creates original abstract art.

OMA is an eight week demonstration project that will collect data on all aspects of the experience. This information will be used to develop an ongoing program at St. Mary’s Woods and other facilities in Richmond and will be shared with the Scripps Gerontology Institute as part of a national study.

We plan to share those results here as well.

If you would like go join us and share the joy, please contact cindy@artforthejourney.org. You don’t need to be an artist. Just be yourself.

http://www.artforthejourney.org

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