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The Healdsburg Homeless Project


The Healdsburg Homeless Project

Our current program, With No Place To Call Home,  seeks to bring awareness to the general public about the homeless population in Healdsburg. The focus of this program is to talk about homelessness to the students of Healdsburg schools and coordinate with the art teachers in the participating classes in having the students work on art projects that reflect their feelings and responses to the many faces of homelessness. We think that children do not have the same filters of the world as adults do and can create images that compel their audiences to action and to look beyond the stereotypes of homelessness. Children are able to strip away all the reasons to say no and replace them with reasons to say yes to caring, supporting and loving. The artwork that is created will be exhibited at the Paul Mahder Gallery from May 15 through May 26.

As part of this program that believes the process of art can help bring about healing and understanding, we will create a safe zone for any homeless person to come once a week to do art work. This will be drawing, painting, writing, with pencils, ink, colored pencils, watercolors and Sharpies. An art instructor and assistant will help guide the process. We will keep the zone open for a minimum of 4 sessions and the art created will be included in the Gallery exhibition. In this safe zone, this group of people can give expression to their lives and create the stories that encompass their experiences, their circumstances and even their goals. In this way the homeless themselves have a role in the broader conversation about homelessness in Healdsburg.

The estimate on the homeless population in Healdsburg is about 150. We would hope to reach about 50 of them through this aspect of the program. If we can give hope and self-esteem to this population through art, we are providing a great humanitarian service. By paying attention to this group of people and giving them a physical and mental space where survival is not an issue, we allow them the opportunity to create and the power to “speak” about their lives. It is a process of self-awareness, of making themselves visible to themselves and each other. The artwork that they create will be part of the larger exhibition in May at the Paul Mahder Gallery.

When this program is seen as part of the larger program, we will be impacting most all of Healdsburg residents but particularly our students. It just seems reasonable that the opportunity for self-expression should be accorded the people we are advocating for as well as the students. Ultimately we help make their lives more visible and a concern for all of us and that helps us find more housing and services for them. We know the County Supervisors want to end homelessness in 10 years and programs such as ours will go a long way towards making an impact on that goal.