Passed in August 2021 by the House of Delegates in a special session of the Virginia House of Representatives, a special Resolution honored the work of Art for the Journey and it's Founder Mark Hierholzer of Richmond, Virginia.
Art for the Journey is honored by this special recognition of our mission and volunteer driven work to transform lives through art and community. The work of this non-profit organization began in an art class taught by Impressionist Artist Mark Hierholzer. Local artist, Jamie Wigginton, who is now Director of Operations & Volunteers presented the idea to Mark Hierholzer of providing art instruction to incarcerated women. This idea initiated the need to raise funds and to become a 501 C-3. To continue to help marginalized individuals through art, artist Cindy Paullin, now Executive Director of the agency shared the idea to bring art to individuals with dementia, and eventually the organization would soar to become a person-centered, human powered art organization helping children, adults and seniors through art serving thousands of individuals accross the state and beyond.
Art for the Journey began to reach at-risk school children through the Youth Life Foundation of Richmond, and other community school partnerships formed with the Carmel School in Ruther Glen and the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in the East end of Richmond. Shortly after these programs formed Art for the Journey began serving frail elderly and reaching out to marginalized populations through art and volunteers.
In 2015 Virginia Commonwealth University began to partner with Art for the Journey with several AFJ programs especially the Scripps Gerontology Center "Opening Minds through Art"(OMA) program which was developed by Gerontologist and visual artist Dr. Elizabeth Lokon, a Fulbright Scholar. VCU professor of Occupational Therapy, Dr. Dianne Simons, formed a special relationship by introducing the OMA program to graduate O.T. students because it aligned well with OT principles. Through a program called "VCU ASPiRE", and now "Transform" VCU community service students regularly volunteer, and VCU Federal Work-study students support the agency. Additionally, University of Richmond became a community partner through the Bonner Scholar program. The growth of support by community volunteers and university partners provides a human powered solution to this outreach centered work!
Since the initial work of the small group of volunteers seeking to provide well-being through art, Art for the Journey has grown to work with other groups including medical students for physician self-care, Richmond Public Schools, and Veterans through the McGuire Veterans hospital addressing the effects of PTSD through therapeutic art experiences. In 2020 to aid school children educating at home during the pandemic, and who were without access to wifi, Art for the Journey partnered with VPM, the local public television station producing a weekly educational TV show hosted by Lauren Paullin, and providing cross curricular arts education program that is now a teachers resource on PBS.org. Most recently, In 2021, Art for the Journey was awarded a special grant in collaboration with LeadingAge Virginia to expand through training and certification for the OMA program to help expand the program into 102 nursing homes accross the state.
Today, Art for the Journey reaches thousands of children, adults and seniors who are marginalized through volunteer engagement that promotes well-being and community for all involved. The Art for the Journey staff and hundreds of volunteers and many community partners are all very touched and grateful for the honor of this Resolution, and grateful to Delegate Kaye Kory and assistant Nancy Hedeen, and the Virginia Delegates who sponsored this commendation as well as approved and passed Resolution 743 honoring the work of Art for the Journey, it's founder, and the many volunteers for our work that positively impacts the overall community. What wonderful motivation to continue this work, and it's human powered positive effect! Join us!