by Kimberley Dodd, Art Drop-In Volunteer
“I like painting and making art with flowers. It makes me feel good”, Margaret Birk says with a smile.
Every Tuesday afternoon, in the Rogers Family Room, Margaret and a group of 5 to 10 people participate in a weekly Art Drop-In. This is an initiative I had the privilege of starting in September 2013.
Participants explore and develop their artistic skills with art materials that have been donated to us. Each week I plan a new project that is collaborative and related to the season or upcoming events that might be happening at CRC. And each week snacks are also provided – one of the highlights for those who participate.
The art created is displayed at CRC. In this way, the artists are able to show off the work, gaining a new sense of confidence and pride. It is also a chance for them to personalize their surroundings and emotionally invest in a place they come to daily.
But the most rewarding part for me is the bond that has developed between those who regularly attend. Participants who may have once been at odds with each other have become close friends. They have begun to share their personal stories and the trials and tribulations of their daily lives. It’s been amazing to watch those once guarded welcome each other and me into their lives.
This community building can be attributed in part to the beneficial effects of creating art – generating positive energy and reconnecting us to our imagination, helping us to be more open minded and refocused in our daily life. Participant artists have begun to watch out and show concern for each other.
“I personally paint to relieve stress. It’s therapeutic. I am angry inside. Instead of taking it out on people I try to relax,” comments Lucia Algimiro Carroz.
The art produced at the Art Drop-In is not only beautiful but also symbolizes hope and progress.
I am thankful that I have been able to use my passion for art to help improve other people’s lives. It is the most rewarding experience I’ve had.
My time volunteering at CRC has changed my view on life. It has taught me about compassion and the joys of giving. And, though I do not live in Toronto, I feel like I now have some roots in Regent Park.