More art — now for kids!

Closeup of child's painting project A new weekly children’s art program at People's Emergency Center (PEC) was born in 2017 and led weekly by the new art program coordinator. Six, one-hour children’s art classes were piloted in July 2017. The children loved the program and asked for more! In the fall, weekly children’s art programming began with eight to 10 students in each class.

Creative expression — and conversation — at People’s Emergency Center

The Friday Fun with Art program at PEC, envisioned by volunteer Stephanie Markel, DDS, and organized by HHI’s Melissa Bennett and volunteers, continues weekly on Friday mornings and includes painting and crafts. And it now takes place in a renovated space devoted to art.

In 2017, the Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) team hosted 44 art classes with approximately six participants per class; invited three local guest artists; recruited and trained five volunteers, and mentored one volunteer to become the art leader. Lauren Dobbins was hired in October 2017 to run weekly classes.

We added a new sewing program, featuring four sewing classes facilitated by newly recruited sewing teachers. One resident sewed curtains for the new art space. The HHI collaborates with jewelry-making volunteers at PEC every other Thursday.

On Wednesday afternoons, volunteers Margie Rosenberg and Valerie Grant sit with mothers at PEC and knit while talking about life, relationships, hopes, aspirations and even business skills. Sometimes mothers knit while chatting with and learning from CHOP pediatricians. Thirty-six classes were held with approximately five or six women attending each class.

The ladies at PEC look forward to art, jewelry and knitting sessions for stress relief, laughter and to learn new skills. HHI volunteers enjoy bonding with the women and seeing their growth — both emotionally and skill-wise. Some of our entrepreneurial participants have even sold items and showcased their work at events like Philadelphia Park(ing) Day, when street parking spaces are converted into one-day pop-up parks, and the Art PopUpShop at HomeFront in New Jersey.

The HHI/PEC Art Council hosted three meetings during the year to bring together mothers, staff, volunteers and guest artists to collaborate, determine programming and supply needs, consider possible field trips, and seek opportunities for showcasing the mothers’ work.

Dedication leads to dedicated art space

Table display with art projects and food It took a village of donors and volunteers to turn the idea of a dedicated area for art at People’s Emergency Center into a bright, functional and special space. Melissa Bennett led the effort. All work was completed through grants, donations and volunteers. Special thanks goes to:

  • PEC partners Dina Mitchell and Cassie Pustilnik, and shelter staff Scott Cannon, who knocked down the storage room wall, helped install plumbing and cabinetry, and were essential to the building process.
  • Steve Leone, Michael DaSilva, Kathleen Hogan and Tom Perrino, of Spiezle Architectural Group, Trenton, NJ, who helped draw up the art space design and plans. They donated their design time and expertise in honor of HHI supporter David Rosenberg.
  • Three volunteer groups of CHOP employees that came to paint the room with donated supplies.
  • Flooring from Shaw Flooring, secured by Spiezle Architectural Group.
  • The CHOP Cares Community Fund, which awarded a grant to cover costs of floor and plumbing installation.
  • EcoCHOP, Children’s Hospital’s recycle/reuse initiative, which facilitated the donation of four used conference tables from former CHOP offices.
  • HHI, which donated paint, one new sewing machine, a hanging wall art system and two plaques thanking Art Program co-founder Dr. Markel and supporters David and Marjorie Rosenberg.

The mothers at PEC are truly excited about their new therapeutic and healing art space!