Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays readers! In the spirit of the season, we wanted to share a heartwarming story that reminds us that anyone, no matter how young, can make a difference towards #healthyneighborhoods.
A few months ago, Veronica’s 5-year daughter Aubrey decided she wanted to give some of her homemade artwork to patients at The Good Samaritan Health Center (where Veronica & Breanna both work). She finished the first piece, a colorful version of the Bible verse “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). We decided to give this first piece to Ms. Marcia, a beautiful woman who started as a patient at Good Sam’s Homeless Clinic and has since become an employee. She works as a Certified Peer Specialist (CPS), counseling a portfolio of 50 other patients through their life struggles. When Aubrey presented her with the artwork, Marcia cried tears of joy and explained that Philippians 4:13 is her favorite Bible verse.
Then Aubrey’s Pre-K class heard about this experience and decided to have the entire classroom make art for Good Sam. The art was all framed and given to Marcia, who was eager to pass on the gift of art to her patients. Marcia turned it into an official program, titled “Little Good Sams in Training”, and uses the artwork as rewards for patients who complete a personal goal in their treatment plan. Marcia has awarded pictures to a patient who planted a garden, to one who reunited with his father, and to one who after many years finally has a place to live. The latter patient chose a picture that featured a cat, the cat’s refrigerator, and the cat’s home. The patient liked that the cat had its own place, just like he finally did after spending his entire adult life homeless. For him, it was the first opportunity he has ever had to decorate a living space. Another picture consisting of “a whole bunch of butterflies” was given to a young homeless man who lost his mother years ago. Butterflies are the image that reminds him of her. He was deeply touched by the artwork, calling it a true “masterpiece”. Now Aubrey’s class makes artwork on a weekly basis, supplying Marcia with a steady stream of masterpieces.
Perhaps the sweetest thing about this program is the way God matches the randomness of 5-year old artwork with the stories of Atlanta’s homeless community. Butterflies, stick figure families, cats with their own refrigerators, speak to the unique narratives of each life. The day the young man stood up in Good Sam’s devotion and testified that he had just reunited with his father (who was with him), there was a picture on display of a father and son. Marcia handed it to him and there were tears in everyone’s eyes. It was a holy moment.
Marcia’s vision for the future of the program is to expand it to include opportunities for her patients to make their own art. The CPS program has used art as therapy for patients across the state of Georgia, with great outcomes. If you would like to partner with this precious group of 5-year olds and support the Little Good Sams in Training project, there are two ways to help:
#1 Make some artwork and put it in a simple frame with your name, age, and a brief description of the piece.
#2 Donate art supplies! We need paper, pencils, markers, paint, etc.
You can send all items to The Good Samaritan Health Center at 1015 Donald Lee Hollowell Pkwy., Atlanta, GA 30318 to the attention of “Little Good Sams in Training”.
Together we are making #healthyneighborhoods, one picture at a time!