Marie Lopez says her son Jason looks forward to the classes
Executive Director Sherri Davis conceived the program
Board president Patrick Ayarzagoitia says a place of their own is a priority
Volunteer Ezra Nicolina Garza organized a fundraiser coming up May 20th at Del Mar College
A new non-profit organization here in the Coastal Bend has made a lot of progress despite being less than a year old. It's called Special Hearts in the Arts, and the goal is to introduce the arts to folks with special needs.
Although the organizers and volunteers have accomplished a lot in just a few short months, they could really use some more support from the community.
It didn't take long to see that the special needs folks in this recent painting class at Catholic Charities were having a great time.
Marie Lopez brings her son Jason every week. She says he looks forward to it and she thinks the program does a lot of good, "I think it's great it gives them a lot more to do, it gives them a little more self-esteem, they're able to things that they didn't think they would be able to do."
The program offers a variety of classes in everything from painting and drawing to photography and theater. And it's a dream come true for creator Sherri Davis. She's a teacher with 42 years of experience, and she has always wanted to do something like this. After she had a dream about the program last fall, she decided just to make it happen.
Catholic Charities provides space, and Davis recruits other teachers to volunteer their time and makes sure there are supplies available, etc. And she has done it while also working full-time at John Paul II High School where she teaches theater, speech, health, and teen leadership
Special Hearts in the Arts is intended to enrich the lives of folks with special needs, and it's clear they really enjoy the classes. And so do the volunteers, like Texas A&M-Corpus Christi professor Patrick Ayarzagoitia, who also heads up the board of directors. Davis was his drama teacher way back when. And he says she's always been an inspiration, "Miss Davis is just such a great person and her vision of having this become reality is what drives the whole thing."
Ayarzagoitia says it's amazing that she's managed to get her 501-C designation, and get the sessions up and running, all in just a matter of months. But he says there's still a lot more to do, "One of the big pieces of this, is to get our own location so that we can provide these services and be available to the community 24/7."
On-going funding is another big need, and that's where a young volunteer named Ezra Nicolina Garza has shined. She's a student at the Collegiate High School and Del Mar College. She wants to be a mechanical engineer. She also came up with the idea for an upcoming fundraiser at the Del Mar east campus on May 20th.
Garza says, "We're going to be selling art specially made by our high school students to be sold off at the event, and then all the money is going to be donated to the charity."
Watching a recent class, it's hard to realize the program didn't even exist seven months ago. The volunteers and board members credit Sherri Davis. But Davis credits them, and all the other folks who've lent a helping hand. Davis says, "I just want to say 'Thank You' to the community for even listening, for helping out, for being a part of this project, I really believe that it will be something the community will love for years to come."