Wow, Washington!

Seattle, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard, Tri-Cities: Washington residents from all over the state are going to great lengths to show their support of our local refugees.  Donations continue to snowball, and it is quickly becoming apparent that industrial shelving will be required to better organize these supplies! The photos show just a sampling of the growing inventory, which includes almost 100 brand new canvases of all shapes and sizes, over 300 tubes, jars, and bottles of acrylic, oil, watercolor, gouche, and tempera paints, over 150 paint brushes, jars of inks and calligraphy pens, stacks of beautiful cardstock papers, watercolor paper, sketch pads, pastels, fabrics, yarn, thread - the list is mind-blowing and much too long to write in one blog post.

This all began with a simple post on a neighborhood community board, and I had no idea the response would be so immediate, so enthusiastic and so overwhelmingly supportive. This movement has grown organically and exponentially from very humble beginnings in just two quick months and I am eager to keep the momentum going. More than anything, I am eager to start seeing these supplies get into as many hands as possible.

My time is now consumed with growing this project quickly and efficiently, and in addition to collecting donations, I've been involved in the following efforts: securing a non-profit name reservation with Washington State (for future incorporation), attending the first of many planning committee meetings for the June art exhibition, contacting funding and supply sources, attending King County arts grant workshops, collaborating with resettlement agency staff to coordinate involvement in ongoing refugee programs, volunteering at a local resettlement office in an effort to make as many connections as possible, helping to facilitate a youth art program, and making arrangements to join in on an elder empowerment group.

Short term goals:

1) Youth program involvement will be increased to include an additional biweekly after-school group workshop.

2) Elder empowerment group workshops and field trips will take place on a regular schedule.

3) Efforts to increase awareness of the program will continue to intensify throughout the community of refugees and the general public.

4) Funding will hopefully be secured within the next month to allow for studio rentals in the area, where artists can begin to focus their efforts on creating works for the June exhibition and for their own sales or therapeutic purposes.

I am very optimistic that the coming months will continue to be rewarding in every sense - from the skilled artists who will reignite their creative passion, to the community at large who will witness the effects of their own positive force put to action.

Let the creative healing begin!