The Micah House homeless shelter recently rolled out a new program called Hearts Embraced by Art for Restorative Therapy or H.E.A.R.T.
The art therapy program was created by Jennifer Shannon, an artist and Micah House volunteer, with the approval of Jaymes Sime, executive director of the Micah House.
Shannon said the timing for the program is perfect because the nonprofit organization wanted to start an art program.
“In my first week, one of the Micah House clients was so excited to create an abstract piece for her future apartment. It intertwined a picture that her daughter had previously created for her,” Shannon said. “Helping her think through this piece was a feeling and a moment I will never be able to recreate.”
Shannon has held two art sessions since the program started. The first class was attended by eight women and the second session saw even more, with 12 attendees.
The program spread quickly through word of mouth and by the women showing their art, said Angie Williams, program manager at Micah House.
“Working with these women has been one of the most incredible experiences I have had,” Shannon said. “They were so open and willing to jump in with their creativity.”
Although Shannon has taught art before, she said nothing compares to working for the H.E.A.R.T. program.
Shannon said the program was personal as the women spoke of the past, future and what gave them peace through their words and art.
“I believe art can provide a therapeutic escape in many ways. To me, art is very important,” Shannon said. “I believe that with a little encouragement and access to supplies these women will undoubtedly flourish.”
For the first two classes the women used paint on canvas or sketched on paper with pencil or charcoal.
The women, and Shannon as well, are also considering creating different art projects, including dream boards, scrapbooking or working with clay.
“Art provides an outlet for self-expression, creativity, reduces anxiety, pain and stress. We want these women to build confidence, self-esteem and resiliency through the power of art,” Williams said.
Shannon and Micah House are open to expanding the program, and the women want to try new techniques.
But the program will only be able to continue or expand with community involvement, Shannon said.
Micah House will accept monetary donations as well as paints, canvas, easels and other art supplies.
To learn more about volunteering as an art instructor to grow the H.E.A.R.T. program call Micah House at 712-323-4416 and ask for Williams.