Expressive Art Program Brings Hope and Transformation
The path to homelessness can often involve a long series of setbacks, including physical, mental, financial, and spiritual well-being, to name a few.
It is not uncommon for one or more traumatic events to precede the gradual unraveling of one’s self-image.
When meeting with Veterans at Vets Place Central, it becomes evident that their level of self-worth and self-confidence have been severely battered. Shame can significantly prohibit a person’s desire and ability to reveal any honest self-revelation.
A significant effect of this LOSS OF SELF on so many levels makes the basic exchange of truth with another person all but impossible. There is just no willingness to share any truth about self. The risk to survival has become too great! Homeless persons become invisible to others. They feel like they do not matter. The risk of suicide or a fatal pattern of neglect becomes more severe after each failed attempt to recover or leave the Shelter.
Therefore, when a veteran gains a safe place to sleep, basic food security, and a golden opportunity to engage in a safe human encounter, it is imperative that attending Expressive Art sessions is offered, even required.
Initially, the veteran can observe veterans attempting to draw as a basic effort at risk-taking. Then, they witness others revealing drawings and verbalizing what they have drawn. This observation often enables the fearful veteran to take a chance, and their turn to draw breaks the self-imposed wall of isolation.
A4TH, through expressive art, can reach the “hidden self” within the homeless veteran. At VPC, the veteran may be living on BORROWED TIME!
The chances for any life free of drugs, suicide, or overdosing are running shorter each day!
When they draw a part of who they are, the words of support from other veterans can validate that they are a unique and acknowledged human beings. The mutual sharing of these genuine personal glimpses shared in the session with other veterans can spark thoughts of hope. The giving and receiving of such a legitimate exchange between veterans can open an essential door to a person’s soul.
Marine Vet Thankful For A4TH Program
My Testimonial thank you:
Tim Mayer and Artists for the Humanities. Just a few words to express my feelings regarding the art therapy sessions facilitated by Tim, which I eagerly attended as a requirement of my program at Vets Place Central.
I have been a member here at VPC since early July of 2022. I had become homeless that July after serving jail time for DUI. It has been a long but necessary journey to regain financial stability, independence and become 100% dedicated to my recovery and sobriety.
We know that recovery is lifelong; however, I have taken the initial and necessary first steps for success. Art therapy with Tim has been especially helpful. My introverted nature has turned around a bit by attending the art therapy sessions, which in turn has given me the opportunity and the willingness to express myself, my goals, my concerns, and eventually, my achievements. The process of drawing and writing my plan for success made it more comfortable to relate my feelings with more clarity and a bit more confidence. The group also made it clear that I needed to hear from fellow vets and benefit from their stories, their failures, and their successes. Art made it easier to see where I stood at the start, my goals and plan, the “bumps in the road,” and my destination. Art therapy has been a vital part of my recovery process.
Although only four sessions in Tim’s class were mandatory, I took the initiative to attend further sessions, not only to support other vets but to continue the learning and continue the camaraderie. Tim created an atmosphere making it easy for all in the group to express whatever was needed at the moment. I am now “back on my feet” financially with a steady, fixed income in retirement. I am sober. I am focused, proud, independent, and above all, grateful for art therapy with Tim.
Thanks for the support and kindness.
With Many Thanks
Like many non-profits, keeping A4TH’s programming adequately funded during COVID was challenging. However, A4TH is starting 2023 with continuing support from funders who recognize the importance of our program and want to assure it can continue to operate and positively impact the lives of its participating veterans. Support thus far in 2023 has come from: Augustine Trust (administered by the Norbertines), Pivot Rock Foundation, Knights of Columbus (WI), Jim & Sharon Hubbard, Rollie & Sue Stephen.
We want to thank the following for their faith in the work that we are engaged in with the homeless population at Vets Place Central and Boudicca House in Milwaukee. The Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, Bader Philanthropies, The Augustine Stewardship Trust, Irish Waters Golf Club, Pivot Rock Fund, Knights of Columbus, Center for Veterans Issues, DAV #53 and DAV #51.