The Allentown Rescue Mission held its first art class for men in its Transformation Program. The course provided many therapeutic benefits and profoundly impacted the men. The students’ excitement carried over to the next day. And the men asked for more classes to be added to the current bi-monthly art class schedule.
COVID-19 safety guidelines severely restricted activities for men staying at the Allentown Rescue Mission. The art class provided a creative outlet for the men to positively express themselves, reduce stress and anxiety, and feel a sense of normalcy for the first time in over a year.
At first, most of the men confessed that they were scared to participate. “I didn’t have any art skills at first, I didn’t know if I could succeed”, admitted one of the students, Hunter. Another student, Antoine stated, “I didn’t think art was macho enough, but it becomes macho. Don’t be scared to try something new that could bring good to your life.”
It didn’t take long for their trepidation to build to pure excitement. “It was totally opposite of what I thought. I had a great time. I loved that I could create something of my own”, realized A.J. All of the men expressed their desire to learn and create more, pointing out it was the most fun they have had in a long time.
Erik Fuqua and Wendy Navarre, employees of the Allentown Rescue Mission, developed and taught the painting class to the men. They educated the men on different painting techniques and explained the different types of paint. They also showed the men how to mix colors and gave them tips on how to get started.
Volunteers and donors Peter Marsh, Jennifer Anders, and Kathryn Burke, along with several Allentown Rescue Mission employees, donated the painting supplies for the course.