On Friday, May 16, staff members of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens hosted an Art Gala for residents and guests in their supported housing residences.
The artwork was created by the residents and a few staff members of Catholic Charities Caring Communities and Mercy Gardens, all supported housing units in various locations in Brooklyn. The art was done by 10 residents from Catholic Charities Our Lady of Good Counsel, Most Holy Trinity, Mercy Gardens and St. Joseph’s, as well as some of the teenagers who volunteer for Catholic Charities OST (Out Of School Time) program. Art work consisted of handmade greeting cards, photography, acrylic painting, water color painting, crochet-work, drawings and sketches and craft boxes. Each artist was on hand to talk about their art work, which was displayed in a museum-like space in the back of Our Lady of Good Counsel’s lobby at 800 Madison Street in Brooklyn. Guests were greeted by the artists and program directors.
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“We knew that there was a lot of talent among the residents in our buildings,” remarked Kim Caufield, MSW, one of the organizers of the Art Gala and the Activities Coordinator for Caring Communities. We wanted to put it together and display it for everyone to enjoy each other’s work in an open public place.”
“The residents were very excited to show off their work and we just wanted to give them a forum where they can show their art,” said Social Services Supervisor of Mercy Gardens Residence, Ian McDonald, also one of the Art Gala organizers. “We are hoping that when others see the artwork it will inspire them to do more art and do their own art. We have an art class that goes on at Mercy Gardens currently, and we are hoping that will inspire some more artists for our next Art Gala.”
Deputy Executive Director of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Sister Ellen Patricia Finn, O.P., attended the event and spoke with each of the artists in attendance.
“I loved participating today. Seeing that everyone had something to bring to the exhibit was very interesting. I loved meeting and greeting everyone here. It is inspirational,” remarked Cheryl Cloud, a resident of Catholic Charities Mercy Gardens and one of the featured artists who had water color paintings on display.
“When I am painting, I am in another world, nothing fazes me. It is a way for me to express my feelings.”
When asked if she was going to participate in the next one, Cloud, who had taken art classes at Pratt Institute said without hesitation: “Absolutely.”
Hors d’oeuvres and beverages were organized by the residents of the buildings as well. The Art Gala event was conceived by Caufield, McDonald, Tricia Philbert, MSW, Clinical Supervisor for Caring Communities and Patricia Dawson, Associate Director of Catholic Charities Progress of People’s Management Corporation (CCPOP).
The Caring Communities buildings, Most Holy Trinity Residence on 157 Graham Avenue, Our Lady of Good Counsel on 800 Madison Street and St. Joseph’s on Dean Street, all located in Brooklyn were first developed in the 1980’s. Three of the buildings were former Catholic Schools and one a former motherhouse for the Sisters of St. Dominic which were converted and developed into safe, affordable housing for single adults. Along with housing, on-site staff provides social service support and work with tenants to build a sense of community. Mercy Gardens, on the grounds of the Convent of the Sisters of Mercy, was opened in 1992 by Catholic Charities and provides housing to single women. Of the tenants living in Caring Communities and Mercy Gardens, all are meeting income requirements with over60 percent of applicants referred from the New York City Department of Homeless Services. . Many tenants have histories of mental illness and are living in the community independently with supports. The remaining 40 percent of tenants are homeless and “housing needy” from the community with incomes too low to afford market rents.
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