Featured Site, April 2017 – St Mary’s Woods Retirement Community

April 10, 2017

“OMA proves that you can have two different people come together with two totally different backgrounds and create something beautiful……” – OMA Student Volunteer

Four representatives from Art for the Journey have attended OMA Facilitator Training (Mark Hierholzer, Kathy Hierholzer, Cindy Paullin, and Jamie Wigginton)!

​They created a pilot program at Saint Mary’s Woods Retirement Community in Richmond in February 2016. Since then, they have completed two sessions and are currently 6 weeks into their third session! Their exhibit and reception is coming up at the end of the month.

They were recently featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The following is an excerpt from that article:

Paullin said she was hooked on the program in her first series of classes.
“I then understood the beauty of seeing somebody visibly change from looking inward to feeling a sense of happiness and accomplishment,” she said.

“I also was able to witness students who surprised themselves in finding this a joyful experience.

“The last thing I witnessed was the overall effect that not only engaged students and elders but also the staff at facility … who also noticed changes in the participants. … They were more engaged, more delighted, more social.”

Their minds had been opened through art.

“Both people I have worked with lived through WW2, Inge is from Germany, and Christine is from Austria, and they tell me stories about their lives, and it puts things in perspective for me.  I enjoy being with them and getting to talk to them.”

– OMA Student Volunteer

We interviewed Cindy Paullin (Facilitator Classes of ’15 and ’16) about her experience as an OMA Facilitator:

Since you began implementing OMA, what are the most important lessons that you have learned? What advice would you give to new OMA facilitators?

Our first challenge was to build a team of volunteers. My advice would be to do the work of meeting and seeking a university collaboration. Students from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) ASPiRE program are seeking to make an impact in the community and they have been dedicated and bring professionalism, kindness, and excitement each time they arrive at a session. VCU ASPiRE students are our first resource and the partners that manage their community engagement are fantastic. We also have increasing numbers of community volunteers who find us on line through the HandsONRVA website which provides broad and numerous volunteer opportunities, this is very helpful to us. We are unique in that we are an art organization, and work to promote healing and wellbeing of adults and children through creative expression, with a special focus on those who otherwise would not have such opportunities available.

Does your site have any exciting future plans for OMA?
Since a recent article about Opening Minds Through Art and Art for the Journey was published in the “Richmond Times Dispatch”, we have received numerous calls and emails from many Richmond Assisted Living facilities. We are hoping to help all of these facilities find a way to implement OMA as well as expand our program with partners of Saint Mary’s Woods.

This year a member of the Virginia General Assembly, Delegate Kaye Kory, invited Art for the Journey to participate an exhibit of works by the “Abilities Caucus”, and a ceremonial recognition was given to us in session with applause by all the delegates!

In 2016, we were invited to speak at the statewide meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association. We presented the Scripps OMA video to professionals and caregivers and held a Q and A. This year, we have been invited to speak at the Virginia Department on Aging’s national conference. We hope that this exposure will enable growth of OMA around Virginia.

Congratulations to Art for the Journey for being our April Site of the Month.

Scripps OMA

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