November 16, 2022: Just because you haven’t heard from us in awhile doesn’t mean we aren’t hard at work! And we’ll bet no one has worked harder these last few months than our Heard artist teacher Sharmila Karamchandani! Our partner Casa Chirilagua specifically asked for her when their after school program, Fun Fridays, started up again late last August. It was challenging, we told her – she would have two half-hour periods with up to 19 kids each (yes, each. For a total of 38 in a hour!). Could she do it?
Why of course she could! And when it was time to bring in a new art program (we usually switch out every month or two), the kids weren’t having it! They wanted Miss Sharmila, and she’s with her kids til Christmas break. And maybe after that? Who knows?
What we do know is that these kids love her! And we have proof – when a scheduling conflict caused a few kids to miss her class, one little guy had a meltdown at his desk. And why wouldn’t he? Each week Sharmila figures out how to get them to create something fun and interesting in just 25 minutes, using things most of us toss out – paper plates, toilet paper holders, paper bags, and straws. Add some paint, markers, and glue, and voila! Magic!
We’ve compiled a short “best of” here. Can you match the photo to the project?
A. Divers-city: creating inclusive buildings. This is a superman school where kids learn how to become superheroes.
B. Flying saucers from paper plates. This is a party saucer. No reports of abductions.
C. An owl from a toilet paper roll. (We’re all saving our TP rolls now in case she needs more).
D. Straw painting.
E. Abecederians (I had to look that word up).
F. Another Diver-sity building from a boy who always includes a bird in his drawings. Always.
Friends of Guest House, August 24 and 31, 2022: When the rest of the Friends of Guest House staff saw what fun their residents in their Workforce Development program had with our Heard art and paper crafting events, they wanted in on the fun! So, they asked if our Heard artist Alison McHugh would want to do a special class for the rest of the group. And of course we couldn’t refuse. In fact, at their request, we held two events – one on August 24 and the second on August 31.
It was two nights of fun, creativity, and finding your voice. And, a night of creating your personal mantra to stay inspired. Who can’t use a little more of that? Do you think they had fun? You tell us! Judging by their smiles we’re saying YES!
July 27, 2022 – “It honestly feels like Christmas when someone creates something new and I get to see it. I love this group!” And that super-positive statement didn’t even come from our Friends of Guest House clients who created their “Guiding Word” canvases – it came from our art teacher Alison McHugh!
“They’re creating something never before seen in the history of the Universe. That’s powerful and I get to witness it,” Alison continued. “[It’s] awesome to be a small part of the journey for these women. I’m humbled and grateful….I definitely get more than I give when I work with this group. They filled me right to overflowing!!” Alison continued on a Facebook post.
Can we just tell you how happy it makes US to know our art team loves what they do so much? And what about our clients? Can you just feel the joy and power? What word guides YOU?
July 20 – 2022: Another win for our artist Alison McHugh today – scrapbooking with the residents of Friends of Guest House! Alison is a scrapbooking and paper craft fiend, and she was determined that our Friends of Guest House friends were as well! And success! As you can see from these happy faces (even the masked ones), everyone had a fabulous time. “SO MUCH FUN” Alison told me later. See what bringing creativity, self expression, and joy to people does? Does it get better? We don’t think so!
July 13, 2022 – Our artist Alison McHugh’s “I Am” boxes were such a hit at Casa Chirilagua that she brought it to Friends of Guest House yesterday. So many things to love about this paper craft, especially the very different ways the women express their secret selves – only they can see what’s inside the box unless they choose to share it (and we’re so glad they did)!
July 6, 2022 – One of the best things about summer is that Alison teaches for us – her day job is as an art therapist with Fairfax County Public Schools. Today she led eight Friends of Guest House residents through making their personal, motivational easel cards. Imagine one of these on your dresser, encouraging you every morning! Wouldn’t you fee motivated every single day?
And our Friends of Guest House friends? They LOVED them! Some shared their quotes and art with the group, and they all are looking forward to Alison’s class next week! What do you think she will do?