President for a Day

February 17, 2023: If you could be the president for a day, what would you do? What one-time executive order would you declare? Our teaching artist Sharmila Karamchandani asked our Casa Chirilagua kids that question, while ingeniously encouraging them to create a 3D log cabin, just like the one President Lincoln grew up in, out of index cards (how in the world does she come up with these amazing ideas)? Sharmila also discussed with them how President Lincoln’s parents were poor and he borrowed books to educate himself and with determination and hard work he became a United States president. Lesson? No matter your circumstances, you can do and become anything you want to!

That executive order? Here’s what these kids would do:
1) “The first thing I will do is kick out all the boys out from US”
2) “I will end poverty”
3) “I will end homelessness”
4) “I will remove all the rules”
5) “I will make everything free”
6) “I will build more playgrounds”
7) “I will make education free”
Some really good ideas here. Maybe they need sharing with our political leaders.

So Much Fun at Fun Fridays this Fall!

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.



Paper Daze

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!

What Word Guides You?

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?

What’s in your ‘I Am’ Box?

June 29, 2022: There’s nothing with paper that our art teacher and paper crafter fan Alison McHugh can’t do, so we knew when we sent her off to Casa Chirilagua for an afternoon with their kids, it would be amazing. It’s a double win when our Heard art teachers have as much fun as the people we work with! Alison sure had fun at Casa Chirilagua on Wednesday, and so did the kids. And isn’t the “I Am” box a great idea?
Afterwards Alison wrote to us: “These kids were amazing and we had SO MUCH fun! We made ‘I Am’ boxes, where they wrote/drew about all of the great things they are on the inside. I practiced my budding Spanish speaking skills and we drew and colored and laughed. So fun. Thank you!”