The residents of Bellflower Oak Street Manor and Bellflower Friendship Manor are tapping into their inner artist, thanks to their own volunteer spirit.
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the communities’ residents and their neighbors in Bellflower, Calif., get together for the common goal of creating art. From quilting to painting, participants embrace the opportunity to express themselves.
But that opportunity was in jeopardy when cuts in funding by the city of Bellflower last year left the program without an instructor. Thanks to some determined residents, however, the classes continue.
Bellflower Administrator David Gregory reports that residents Richard Jaros and Miriam Nelson have helped keep the classes going by volunteering as unofficial instructors. In addition, the teacher who led the class prior to the budget cuts returns once a month on a volunteer basis.
It’s been a rewarding outcome for all involved.
“It gives them a chance to develop some new skills and to create some beauty,” Gregory says.
Gregory adds that the residents have taken the wheel of the eight-person art class by providing their own supplies, including canvases and paints.
In April, the art class organized an exhibition and sale at the Neighborhood Christian Fellowship, located across the street from the community.
“It was a nice sale,” says Jaros, who has been painting for almost 20 years. “I think we are going to have another one soon.”
Perhaps as soon as this December, Jaros says, with plans for 10 percent of the sale proceeds to go to the Bellflower Resident Council for community trips and organized events.
Gregory and Jaros say they hope to acquire grant funding to eventually employ an art teacher. For now, though, the volunteers are happy to help for the sake of art.
“It keeps us busy here, and out of trouble,” Jaros laughs. “It’s fun, relaxing.”
Gregory says that in June the mayor of Bellflower, along with other city officials, plan to visit the Bellflower communities and inform the residents about city spending.
“It’s good that we have a connection with the city,” Gregory says.
Perhaps that connection will lead to more opportunities for classes at the Bellflower communities, giving residents and neighbors even greater access to their creativity.
Founded in 1949, ABHOW is widely known for its pioneering leadership in senior housing and health care. The company serves more than 5,000 residents in 42 retirement communities in California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
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This article appears in the June 2012 issue of ABHOW Words.