Reflections of an ArtSeed Volunteer
The day after the presidential election, I was feeling pretty down and hopeless. In addition to Hillary not becoming president, I had recently been laid off from a job. I found myself in the Labyrinth garden at the Park Presidio United Methodist Church on Geary and 7th Avenue. I walked the labyrinth a couple times and sat down and meditated. As I started to leave, a big beautiful dog came into the garden and jumped up and kissed me. “Amos” had felt my pain. Seconds later, Pastor Caiti appeared out of nowhere. She introduced herself as the pastor of PPUMC and invited me to come to church services the upcoming Sunday.
I knew there was something missing from my life. I needed to belong to a community. I needed to have more spirituality in my life. I also needed to re-connect with my art, my photography. I saw the ArtSeed banner hanging outside of the garden. Something clicked.
As soon as I walked into the church on Sunday, I felt all the burden and hopelessness immediately lift from my shoulders. I met Josefa Vaughan, the executive director of ArtSeed after the service and she invited me upstairs to visit the studios. I had found my new home! I felt the love and peace and the sense of belonging. I immediately volunteered my services with ArtSeed. After all, I had a lot of time on my hands since I was not working.
The next day I met Josefa in the studio and began my first day as an ArtSeed volunteer. Here are some of my contributions:
I called parents of the SF Montessori students who still had art to be picked up. ArtSeed had worked with many kids on various projects such as ceramic tiles and paintings
- I assisted with the yearly holiday letter-stuffing, adding return addresses, and making sure there were no errors in the mailing labels.
- Assisted with the 2016 Presidio Holiday Lights. I gathered supplies, and helped take them over to the Presidio YMCA. I set up the tables with cards, paint, brushes, and other necessary supplies. I set up the chairs. When the kids came in, I made sure there was fresh water for the brushes. I helped with spills. I made sure we got parents to sign in with their child’s name and contact info so we could contact them in the future. Afterwards, I assisted with cleanup.
- In late December, I helped out at the Hunters Point Shipyard studio organizing and cleaning and boxing up items to be moved to the new studio location at the church.
- I spent every chance I could helping organize and clean the new studios at the church. This included Sundays during our drop-in hours.
- I started helping out at the office in the Presidio in the beginning of January. This
included data entry, following up on returned holiday appeal letters, cleaning organizing, and assisting Josefa with whatever she needed.
- I started working full time on January 23, 2017. I have kept up on the processing of returned Holiday appeal letters, updating contacts, filing, data entry, maintaining, and keeping our 2107 binders current. I have sat in on IT meetings so I could get a better grasp on our system. I am happy to say that migrating from iCloud to Google contacts was a blessing. I still help out at the studio on Sundays after church. It is a work in progress and I am assisting with the organization of the space. I help with the cleaning, and whatever else needs to be done.
ArtSeed has given me a chance to be of service again. I have a sense of belonging. I have hope again. I have framed several of my favorite mushroom photos and am going to have my first show in March. I owe all this to my new family at the church and at ArtSeed.