As a child I woke up shivering in my bed on many winter mornings because we couldn’t afford to pay the heating bill. And, when we’d ask Mom, “What’s for dinner?” She would make us laugh by saying, “Meat balls and spaghetti — without the meat balls.” My father would remind us, no matter how little we had, “there are many others who have less than us.”
Those years were challenging, but they served a greater purpose. They taught me empathy for others and to be grateful for every blessing I received. I also learned to adopt the art of gratitude and giving through creative expression.
Every morning, upon awakening, I express gratitude for heat, food and shelter, followed by reciting 20 gratitude affirmations on a range of topics. Feeling blessed to have a fulfilling life I think about those who have few, if any, of their basic needs met.
I am also grateful for the many selfless individuals who strive to bring peace, solace, healing, and service to others. This article introduces you to some of them.
Art and Healing Organizations That Serve Others
There are thousands of children and adults around the world suffering from poverty, illness, addiction, bereavement, trauma, and loss. There are also thousands of leaders and volunteers of art and healing organizations that start their days focused on providing services to others.
Organizations that bring love, compassion and healing to others are to be respected and honored. They offer programs that incorporate art and artists’ skills. You’ll find opportunities through them to share your gratitude and giving through creative expression.
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Free Arts “Connecting through the Healing Power of Art”
Free Arts for Abused Children was born out of the determination of two women who understood and appreciated the inherent therapeutic value of the arts: Carolyn Sargent, a woman who, as a child, used art to emerge from the sadness and isolation of hearing loss, and Elda Unger, an artist and aspiring art therapist. They recognized the need for children in foster care to have meaningful engagement with the arts. Through the organization originally founded in 1977 as Free Arts Clinic, Carolyn and Elda gave the gift of creative self-expression to children in need of positive outlets for their experiences.
The vision of Free Arts is “a society of individuals from different communities, cultures and life experiences connecting through the healing power of art to interrupt the cycle of violence, create understanding, build self-esteem and nurture better lives.”
The mission of Free Arts programs is “to inspire hope in the lives of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness through innovative creative arts programs and positive interactions with caring adult volunteers.”
Visit the Free Arts website to learn more about it.
“I shall pass through this life but once. Any good therefore that I can do, let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it.”
~ Etienne de Grellet
Art with Heart “Their Hearts Can Mend”
The mission of Art with Heart, based in Seattle, WA, is to help children overcome trauma through creative expression. The nonprofit, launched in 2002, is dedicated to supporting the emotional well-being of children adversely affected by hardship, using creativity to lead to inspired possibilities. Art with Heart offers evidence-based, healing, therapeutic books and programs “that bring together the best in therapy with the best in illustration to help children and teens facing distress and hardship.”
The organization’s well-researched methods “allow children to express their pain and their power so they can move beyond hardship and uncertainty to a lifetime of confidence and courage, so they can re-write their future.”
Art with Heart explains, “We believe that despite the many challenges children and teens face – illness, rape, divorce, separation, grief – their hearts can mend and they can thrive once again.”
Visit the Art with Heart website to learn more.
“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced & discharged & used up in order to exist at all.” ~ William Faulkener
Artists For Trauma “Where Recovery Is An Art”
AFT is a 501c3 nonprofit organization founded by trauma survivor Laura Sharpe in 2011. Her personal journey to recovery inspired her to launch it, in which she connected with the world of art as a source of healing from her near-mortal wounds. AFT is dedicated “to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines.”
“Trauma is the #1 cause of death for Americans between 1 and 44 years old. Each year, trauma accounts for 41 million ER visits and 2 million hospital admissions.” ~ AFT
AFT reveals and shares the blueprint of Sharpe’s astonishing recovery to help other Level 1 trauma survivors positively reconnect with themselves, their families and their communities. The mission of the organization is “to expedite recovery through artistic expression and human connection, providing a creative portal to help patients process complex emotions, regain confidence and build self-acceptance after suffering a traumatic experience.” They offer “FUN, adaptive, artistic platforms designed to provide free of charge, evidence-based, interactive, healing programs.”
AFT partners with other nonprofits, trauma hospitals, businesses, post acute rehabilitation facilities, military resource organizations, community based trauma support centers and support groups, individual trauma survivors, and local to internationally established artists “to best provide AFT’s adaptive, empowering and creative, healing environments.”
Visit the AFT website to learn how to help.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” ~ Arthur Ashe
Arts At Hospice “Creativity is an Eternal Element”
Arts At Hospice is a 501c3 non profit that cites: “Creativity is an eternal element, born of the moment, but intangible and lasting, a fundamental life force. Exposing patients and families to the arts and encouraging creativity embraces the eternal at a point when life might otherwise seem frighteningly finite. Our mission is to inspire you to help patients to engage in artistic endeavors.”
One of the artists who participates in Arts At Hospice is Diane Bilal, who specializes in pastel, pencil, and watercolor portraiture. She states, “I draw portraits because it seems to have a healing effect on people.” She also does floral painting and facilitates art projects relating to family trees and genealogies. Diane also offers soothing flute music. Jon Moscartolo is another artist participant, who explains, “I volunteer because I believe art is an incredible healer.” He presents a workshop for adults and children who visit their loved ones at hospice.
Arts At Hospice exclaims, “Any artist who has volunteered at hospice has been overwhelmed by the appreciation from patients and families. Those who volunteer their services experience deep personal rewards.”
Visit the Arts At Hospice website for more information and suggestions on how you can help.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
Share Your Compassion and Creative Skills
Start where you can and become part of positive change. Contact an organization and you’ll quickly find out how your compassion and creative skills can make a profound impact on another human being. You can also help by telling others about the many altruistic programs like the ones mentioned here, and you can make a donation to help them continue their mission. Many organizations also accept works of art for display in hospitals and community venues and/or for their fundraising efforts.
“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”
~ W. Clement Stone
Sell Your Art in the Healthcare Art Market
You can also make a difference by selling your art in the healthcare art market. There are many medical programs and art consultants seeking art to place in a wide variety of healthcare facilities and wellness centers.
ART In Healthcare For Artists, by Renee Phillips, is a comprehensive e-Guide that explains how this market works, the criteria, and who and how to approach to sell your art in this burgeoning art market. Many resources are included. Find out how to get this e-Guide.