With an estimated 20,000 homeless children in the Bay Area (KCBS, 2014), DrawBridge is continually expanding its services to reach more and more underserved children in our community. In our previous fiscal year, we opened seven new art groups, and have plans for seven more between now and next July. Our latest new partnerships are with Raphael House in San Francisco and with OMA Village in Novato, and we are currently in discussions with organizations serving homeless populations in Napa and a second site in Novato, in hopes of bringing our art groups to their facilities.
Finding a new program site involves researching government and private organizations that serve homeless and underserved children, and making contact to find out whether our program is appropriate for the children at their facility. Most are very eager to have art programming for children, which is often provided at no charge to the facility (and there is never any charge for the children involved). We visit each site, meet with the managers, and make sure they can offer us a comfortable, safe room in which to present our art groups, which is private at least for the time we are there. (Parents drop off their children, but are not encouraged to stay for the group.)
Once a new partnership has been created, there is a flurry of activity before the new art group can commence. A facilitator is needed to lead the group, and this is often a former volunteer who has experience with DrawBridge and understands the philosophy of expressive art and the organization’s mission and vision. Art materials need to be collected, a volunteer is sought to support the facilitator, and the site needs to help spread the word regarding the new program that is being offered. Children are often both excited and shy the first time they attend a DrawBridge art group, but the majority leave happier, often more confident, and definitely bearing one or more art projects to proudly share with their parents.
Opening seven new groups this year increases our annual budget more than $20,000. Additional funding is needed from all of our supporters, which include individuals, foundations and corporations. It will also allow us to serve hundreds more children with the art groups they’ve come to love so much.
“Every week a new art project would be introduced to let our creative juices flow. More important than just the art, it was a safe place for us to be kids and share our thoughts and stories with each other.” – Asefa S., former DrawBridge participant.
We hope you will join our efforts to bring enhanced creativity, joy, self-confidence and hope to the budding artists in our underserved Bay Area communities.