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The past year has been filled with emotional highs and lows.  I am sure it is the same for everyone else.  My Mom has been gone just a year and I still find myself wanting to walk into the other room to tell or show her something.    Whatever your relationship is or was with your parents there is always mixed emotions about things said or unsaid.

I found myself in a profound exacerbation of my illness(es) and was told it was my stress and grief.
I needed to take care of ME and calm my stress levels down. 

I had been putting off donating my Mom's last shipment of Insulin that had arrived just a week before her passing.  So I finally took it to a local Women's Recovery Program. 

It sat on the seat beside me as I drove across town.  Her name printed on the outside of the container elicited tears.  It felt like I was saying good bye to the last of her.  I cried all the way there.

While waiting for the nurse I had just talked to about accepting the donation, I visited with the receptionists.  I had no idea what was going to fall off my tongue.. I just blurted out " do the women have an art program here?"

One of the ladies said not really.  The other said you should go to the Yellow House. It is the house for the nursery and school age children of residents here when they are in class or working all day.
So they promptly gave me a date and time for the next volunteer orientation class the following week.

I then met the nurse in charge of the Union Gospel Mission's 3 health clinics.  Annie came out and the receptionists said "We have a new volunteer"  She asked if it was for the health clinic and I said no to do art with the kids.

She said " come on   You can do it I can teach you."  I laughed and said I was a retired Nurse but had not kept up my license after acquiring my illness.  You don't need  a current license when you are volunteering.

So I agreed to also work in the women's health clinic at that House.  I got out in the car and just realized the commitment I made and  said.  "Thanks Mom.  This is your fault."

I know my Mom led me there to reach out and get out of my own grief and focus on someone else in more need. 

Every Tuesday I eagerly get up at 6 am to get ready and go the clinic and work with the women in the house who are sick or have sick children.  I have come to know them and care about them deeply.
They are women who took a wrong turn or made a choice that altered their live dramatically and not for the better.

They are committed to changing their life for themselves and some for their children as well.
They deserve love and respect just like any of us.

After Clinic is over I go across the court yard to the Yellow House and work with the school age children after school. In the summer most of the afternoon.  They have come to trust me and look forward to every new week and project I bring. These kids have been homeless and through traumatic childhoods.  They are broken and need so much love.  It took a while to break down their walls of acceptance and now I get hugs and smiles.  They even share some of their lives while we are working one on one.

When I first started I asked if there was a budget for supplies for the Yellow House and was told they had a one time budget of $20.  I didn't take it. I continue to haunt garage sales and thrift stores for art supplies and fill in with  personal donations.

This summer when all our granddaughters were staying with us, they came and volunteered in the nursery and worked with the school age kids on two different occasions.  A life lesson in viewing the underprivileged.  Our kidlets were wonderful and loved being there.

My health is more or less back to baseline with the limitations I will always have but life is good and busy. 

I still continue my Monday Mayhem art classes here at our house.  Kids come and go do to more sports involvement or entering high school.  I always seem to average a dozen kids.  These kids have happier healthier environments but I know Art is a universal tool to bring joy and some healing to anyone who indulges in it.

I would love to show pictures of the kids at the Yellow House and some of the art we have made but need to protect their privacy. I need to start taking pictures of just their art. I want to start doing art with the women but they have one free night a week and a card making artist has that time for now.

Please take a moment in your life and no matter how you feel just give someone a smile.  It will do more than you will ever know.

Hoping your day is filled with JOY and ART.


Art and Sand said...

Your mom found the perfect place for you!

Marrianna said...

Marvelous. I hadn't thought of ever volunteering with women to make art. No, I would not inflict myself on little kids. Ain't gonna happen. But I'll see what I can do about volunteering with ladies trying to get their lives back together.

Sheila said...

Awesome post, and I am so happy for you :) health better, and joy renewed through your good works and interactions. You are making a difference, in spades!! So enjoyed the photos. Blessings Always :)

Jeanie said...

Your mother did indeed take you there. I think this is just wonderful and I can tell you from experience that volunteering during your grief journey can help bring healing. When my dad died, about a year later (after loads of grief) I began volunteering for a children's grief center working with kids who had lost parents, siblings and other loved ones. Part of our time was talk time and part was creative time, all the time talking about the things that were bothering them -- maybe it was school or missing mom or being afraid of losing their home or whatever. They would draw it, collage it, write it, paint it, bead it, sculpt it and in doing so, shared their feelings and were able to express things. These kids grew emotionally through that time. I can see exactly how that will happen to those with whom you work and you will find it empowering to yourself as well.

I am very happy you have found this and extra happy that you shared it here with us. Sending big hugs and if I could, art supplies. Maybe some of your Aussie (?) blog readers can send you things they are no longer using. Do they have kickstarter or something similar there where you could have a campaign for funds for art supplies? I could see that happening.

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

That is absolutely wonderful. The best way to help ourselves is to reach out to others. You are using your experience (nursing) and talent (art) to make a difference in the lives of so many. May you continue to be a blessing.

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