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  • Mercy Home

2022; A Year in Review

As we enter 2023, it is such a joy to look back on 2022. We had the pleasure of interviewing our Horticultural Therapist, Maggie, and our Art Therapists, CiCi and Laura, on the successes and development that took place in our programs this year, the effect of returning to in-person programs, and their wishes for our community in the future.

What was a major development that took place in your program this year with an individual or group of individuals?

Laura, art therapist:

D* and I have been collaborating for 6 years now. I know she uses color to express herself. I know she needs space, so I give her rolls of canvas to splatter all her paint on. Every project we grow closer in our creative and therapeutic connection. Every time I get to see her sing and smile while painting her flowers, her leaves, her rainbows, is a major development. People appeared for the first time (in her artwork) in September of 2022. After 6 years of magical and ever so unique leaves, a series of portraits appeared. I wrote down "family day" on the craft paper above the pieces I had cut for her. I turned around from opening the tubes of paint, she surprised me yet again, with a whole family of unique characters, all wearing specific colors, earrings, expressions. Magic again D*. I looked around the respite group a couple weeks ago and turned to Cici. I smiled and said ‘isn't it amazing, they have developed so many skills, so much more fine motor control, so many rich conversations in group.’ It's really incredible the self and community growth we are witnessing. Placing a bead through string was impossible and now you've completed a series of bracelets. Cutting shapes was impossible and now you are collaging. Sitting in a chair for 45 minutes was impossible and now you're painting the entire session without getting up. Those are our small yet gigantic treasures.”

CiCi, art therapist:

“As a collective, tremendous growth has occurred in our sessions. There are a number of individuals who have begun to create art who in the past had not shown interest or who were unable to sit still or participate in group activities. Being a witness to the personal growth of individuals who previously had never picked up a paintbrush or taken the cap off of a marker are the highlights that continuously make the work we do so miraculous.”

A major development took place in your program this year with an individual or group of individuals; Plant-Grow-Give:

Maggie, horticultural therapist:

“In Plant-Grow-Give, we greatly expanded our indoor growing capacity with a new classroom in the administrative office, along with the installation of three hydroponic garden towers, which are currently growing a number of herbs and leafy greens. Individuals in the home and respite programs select seeds then plant and monitor their growth in these towers, which economically and efficiently grow produce that goes on to be used for culinary education, as well as for donations to those in need. We also established composting programs in six of the residences, which is a wonderful and ongoing lesson in sustainability and the cycle of life.”

What was the effect of returning to in person program post covid in your program?

Laura, art therapist:

“Sensory and kinesthetic components are an immense part of Creative Arts Therapy. It became extremely difficult to access the simple yet complex importance of touching materials through telehealth. The first day back Cici, Maggie, and I immediately set up the tables in the beautiful sun of the Mercy Home courtyard. With our 20 or so beautiful souls of the respite program we danced to disco, we made bouquets with the fresh flowers growing throughout the thriving garden, we painted with all the colors of the rainbow, we laughed, we wrote with chalk on the warm ground, we stretched, we smiled. That's how everyday since then has been. Like a baby walking on fresh grass for the first time, like feeling the sand under your feet after years, like running into the ocean and diving in the waves. That is what it means to FEEL, to TOUCH. It's simple, yet complex. It's the foundation of creative arts therapy and how essential materials are to our therapeutic practice.”

CiCi, art therapist:

Coming back together in person has been an absolute joy, the excitement was palpable. Getting to handle materials and be back at Mercy Home was incredible from an art making standpoint as well as a social one. Something I often smile about is the fact that the individuals who attend Saturday respite are truly like a family. Many are friends outside of this program, they have grown up together. They have grown together, healed together, been in sorrow together. When an individual is having a hard day or goes through a loss of a friend or family member the way the individuals show such concern and empathy for one another is truly a beautiful thing. The importance of collective healing after the long isolation of the pandemic has been beneficial to all of the individuals in countless ways.”

Maggie, horticultural therapist:

“Plant, Grow, Give has thrived returning to our hands-on programming, where we're back in the Greenhouse and Mercy Home courtyard, utilizing these spaces to learn about growing food and about the abundant nature that surrounds us.”

If you could tell the public one thing about your program to make them realize the impact it has on those we serve, what would it be?

Laura, art therapist:

“Not everyone uses words to communicate. Some need to hum, some need to paint, some need to put their hands in clay. Some need to pace, some need to rock back and forth, some need to dance. The words come back around too, sometimes it's easier to find the right ones when your hands are busy being creative and your mind can relax. Verbal and non-verbal expression of the self through creativity. Growth, communication, and building community through creative exchange. That's what we do.”

CiCi, art therapist:

“The Art Therapy program at Mercy Home Saturday Respite is not only about creative expression. Yes, we provide a therapeutic holding space for individuals to feel like they have a safe place to explore their thoughts, emotions and feelings through the therapeutic process of making art. While also producing beautiful works of art that individuals can be proud of. As art therapists we provide the individuals we serve with new skills and art techniques, exposing them to new materials. However, if I had to choose just one thing to share with the public about the importance of the work we do and the incredible impact it has on the community we serve it is the opportunity of agency we provide to those we serve. Individuals have the ability to make choices, in a world in which they often do not. Whether it is choosing between two colors or using paint instead of markers, this could be communicated vocally or by physical touch, even a gesture. The therapeutic bond built with each individual is like a language in its own right. Each choice is powerful, each choice reminds that individual that they are seen and heard. That is the most impactful thing we can offer. We act as advocates to help those who feel not seen, not only be seen but to shine brightly.”

Maggie, art therapist:

“PGG gets folks outside and engaged in hands-on fulfilling nature-based experiences that lead to increased self-esteem, improved emotional regulation, and is a wonderful tool for orienting folks to the changing of the seasons.”

We want to express our deepest gratitude to all our supporters who make these programs possible, because of you- the people we serve have opportunities to blossom, grow and shine. We are grateful for 2022, and very excited for 2023! Check out our Flickr Album for a recap of 2022 at Mercy Home!

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