Carrboro nonprofit uses art for healing

By Todd Cohen

CARRBORO, N.C. — In the Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Durham public schools, students who are refugees or immigrants, typically do not speak English, and generally have lived in the community for less than a year, draw pictures and use other forms of art to express their feelings and talk about themselves and where they grew up.

At Durham nonprofit Families Moving Forward, a group of single parents who are homeless and living in transitional housing meet once a week in a group and use music or other art activities to help work through challenges they face.

And at Galloway Ridge, a retirement community in Chatham County, residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia spend time every other week occupying themselves with painting and other arts activities.

Providing all those programs is the Art Therapy Institute, a Carrboro nonprofit that provides therapeutic art-making opportunities for people who experience illness, trauma or other challenges in living.

“Art transcends language barriers,” says Hillary Rubesin, interim executive director at the Institute. “A lot of the population we work with are considered marginalized groups. Providing them with the tools and the means to share their own voices — that’s the power of the arts.”

Feeling disconnected can make life difficult for children and adults alike, whether they are new to the region, don’t speak English, are homeless, or live with a physical disability, mental illness, cancer or dementia, says Rubesin, an expressive therapist who uses the arts — such as painting, music, dance and drama — for healing.

Formed in 2006 as a program of The Exchange Family Center in Durham, the Institute became a nonprofit in 2009.

It operates with an annual budget of $200,000, a staff of six full-time clinicians, and clinical interns from local and national colleges and universities, plus about 80 volunteers, and serves about 500 people a year, including about 400 children.

It offers six clinical programs, most of them through partnerships with public schools and nonprofits.

Its exceptional children’s program, for example, serves about 150 students with physical or “processing” disabilities once a week for 30 minutes to an hour in their self-contained classrooms in 20 schools in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro public school system.

To help build their social skills, reduce their anxiety and increase their self-esteem, children with physical disabilities, such as blindness, can squeeze nontoxic, scented food coloring into sand, for example, and then make pictures in the sand to express themselves.

In self-contained classrooms in 20 Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Durham public schools, therapists from the Institute meet once a week with a total of about 150 students who are newly-arrived refugees and immigrants, many of them dealing with past trauma and many of them who cannot speak English, using art to “share parts of themselves and their stories,” Rubesin says.

The same “Newcomer” program, in partnership with resettlement agency Church World Service in Durham and at its own office in Carrboro, also meets every other week with a total of about 40 adults who use art to express themselves and connect with one another.

The Institute also hosts a free weekly community arts group at its office for any adult in the community who identifies as living with mental illness, and provides arts therapy groups at Duke Hospital and UNC Hospitals for children with cancer, as well as monthly arts shows and monthly art-therapy workshops.

Now, the Institute aims to raise more money through grants and from individuals to grow through even more partnerships, including introducing its program for refugee and immigrant adults and children in Wake, Guilford and New Hanover counties.

“For newcomers coming to this country who often cannot speak English or have such intense trauma backgrounds, they’re sometimes not even comfortable talking about it in their own language,” Rubesin says.

“The arts are an equalizing tool for people who might not feel confident in other aspects of their lives, or who might be suffering from mental illness,” she says. “It’s about  being able to express themselves through art. It allows you to tell your story in a way that you want it to be told.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 09.01.17

Aft to succeed Fitzgerald at Second Harvest

Eric Aft, director of development for Wake Forest University and former chief operating officer for United Way of Forsyth County, has joined Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest as chief operating officer and will succeed Clyde W. Fitzgerald Jr. as CEO when he retires in June 2018.

Fitzgerald, who has served as CEO for nearly nine years, announced to the Second Harvest board of directors over 18 months ago his intention to retire.

Second Harvest addresses food insecurity in 18 counties.

Children’s Theatre of Charlotte names co-leaders

Adam Burke has been named artistic director and Linda Reynolds has been named managing director at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, which now has created a “co-leadership” structure for the organization after Burke and Reynolds served in those respective roles on an interim basis for eight months.

Groups team up to provide food to people in need

Holders of an “Orange Card” from Guilford Community Care Network now can get $10 worth local produce and food for free every week from the Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, thanks to a collaboration that includes the Network; its parent organization, Guilford Adult Health; Cone Health Foundation; and local farmers’ markets.

And recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, can receive a match of up to $10 a visit during the mid-week and Saturday Markets that they can use to buy fresh produce, fish, meats, eggs, honey, milk, and other food items from participating vendors.

Old Salem to explore ‘hidden’ African-American community

Old Salem Museums & Gardens has begun an initiative, known as the “Hidden Town Project,” to research and reveal the history of a community of enslaved and free Africans and African Americans who once lived in Salem, North Carolina.

The initiative aims locate the sites of dwelling places of enslaved people throughout Salem’s historic district; fully integrate the story into the interpreted experience for visitors; connect with descendants of enslaved people who lived there; archaeologically investigate designated site; interpret the heritage of enslaved people in Salem and their descendants through contemporary art forms, salon discussions, and public gatherings.

Dying process focus of conference for faith community

The dying process and how to be a more effective companion to people at the end of their lives will be the focus of the second annual spiritual-care conference that Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro will host on September 28 for the region’s faith community.

The conference, “Companions on the Journey: Deepening the Conversation” will be held on from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lusk Center at 2501 Summit Ave.

Concert raises $150,000 for two charities

The 8th Annual Rock Your World benefit concern on August 12 at the Booth Amphitheatre in Cary raised over $150,000 for Hope for Haiti Foundation and Water for Good.

Junior Achievement honors partners

Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina presented its Outstanding Corporate Service Award to Fidelity Investments; its Outstanding Individual Service Award to Rick Towner; and its Outstanding Educator Award to Rosalynn Temple, career development coordinator at Heritage Middle School in Wake Forest.

Since 2010, Fidelity has presented Junior Achievement programs to 2,700 students at two middle schools in Durham and Cary.

In the 2016-17 school year, Towner as a voluntneer taught Junior Achievement programs to 250 students in 10 classes, totaling over 1,500 hours.

And for the last eight years, Temple helped 1,900 students participate in Junior Achievement programs.

Junior Achievement gets $56,000

Junior Achievement of the Triad has received a two-year, $55,798 grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem to its “Economics for Success” program to up to 3,360 seventh-grade students at six Title I middle schools in Forsyth County.

HandsOn Northwest North Carolina organizing service projects

HandsOn Northwest North Carolina in Winston-Salem is celebrating its 10th anniversary by organizing 10 volunteer service projects with 10 community partners.

At each project, 10 or so community and corporate volunteers will work with a team of AmericCorps National Civilian Community Corps members deployed to Winston-Salem for the projects.

United Way of Alamance plans to move

United Way of Alamance County has purchased new space at 220 East Front Street in downtown Burlington and will move in after renovations that are expected to take at least two months.

Wake Forest Baptist donates bleeding-control kits

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is donating 100 new bleeding control kits to the Winston-Salem Police Department to equip police officers to quickly stop severe blood loss for victims of gunshot or stab wounds, vehicle crashes or other traumatic injuries. The kits contain dressings for wound packing, a hyphen seal for chest wounds and a tourniquet.

Interactive oral hygiene display opens

High Point Regional Health Foundation has opened a new, interactive oral hygiene display at the Millis Regional Health Education Center at 600 N. Elm Street.

The display was funded with a $15,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation.

Chief deputy insurance commissioner to speak to underwriters

Michelle Osborne, chief deputy state insurance commissioner will be the speaker at the monthly meeting of the Triad Association of Health Underwriters on September 5 at 11:45 a.m. at Hilton Garden Inn Greensboro Airport.

Dog-adoption events scheduled

Coldwell Banker Triad, Realtors, Animal Adoption & Rescue Foundation, and Guilford County Animal Shelter will host dog-adoption events September 9 in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

The events will be held at the Guilford County Animal Shelter at 4525 W. Wendover Avenue in Greensboro from noon to 4 p.m., and at Coldwell Banker Triad at 285 South Stratford Road in Winston-Salem from noon to 3 p.m.

Grants available from Syngenta

September 29 is the deadline for Triad nonprofits with projects that promote agricultural and science education or help relieve hunger to submit applications to Syngenta for grants up to $10,000 through its community grant program.

Charlotte YMCA selects app to connect employees

YMCA of Greater Charlotte has selected the Mobile App Platform from StaffConnect to connect its network of 4,700 employees.

Public School Forum expands teacher program, hires writer

The Public School Forum of North Carolina, which works with early-career teachers in Wake, Mecklenburg and Union counties through its Beginning Teacher Leadership Network, is expanding the program this school year to Cabarrus, Carteret and Onslow counties.

For the 2017-18 school year, the Public School Forum is partnering with WakeEd Partnership to jointly lead the program in Wake County.

The Forum also has hired Lindsay Wagner, former education writer and researcher at the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, as senior writer and researcher.