The human condition is inescapable. We are all, by definition, Homo sapiens with emotions, social structures, aspirations, as well as specific survival needs and mechanisms. And, yes, we are all mortal.
Positive social interactions are an essential component, within this description, for healthy emotional stability. Those participating in a learning community, such as Deep Root Center, discover those connections are an integral part of engaging in the activities that are present and available to each member.
One of my roles at Deep Root Center, during individual mentoring sessions, is to interpret what a student member needs or desires through his/her demeanor and actions, and spoken words. I am then able to think about and seek volunteers and resources who will provide a perfect match for that particular youth.
We have many volunteers walk through our doors, every week, some are sought out for those particular subjects that students have requested, and others spontaneously show up and ask, “what can I do to help?” (This is exactly how we met André.)
Sometimes a certain type of magic happens, however, and I am able to introduce people who can offer each other a piece of what is missing from their lives.
One Friday, as is typical, I was having a conversation with Muriel, the nonagenarian painter, who rents studio space next to Deep Root Center. She casually mentioned that she was having difficulty stretching some of her canvases. And I, equally as nonchalantly, suggested that maybe a specific 13 year old boy, who is highly creative and talented, would be interested in helping her that coming Monday.
I presented the idea to the student and he, with some apprehension, agreed to help her. Before long, he was back asking for some acrylic paint and a canvas, because he wanted to paint. He proceeded to create a beautifully choreographed, brightly colored geometric piece and earned high praise from Muriel. The next day we moved the DRC wooden easel into her studio, so he could have his own space to paint. Over the next few days, he created another stunning geometric acrylic and he expertly helped Muriel stretch several canvases.
Soon, another 13 year old asked if he could paint with Muriel. We walked down the hallway to her studio and I introduced him. She was delighted to take him on, despite the encroachment of her usable workspace. The first day, inspired by a poster at DRC, he painted Chinese characters on a large piece of foam core. The next week, he started another painting on canvas. He is completely engaged in his art and discusses each step with other students, as well as Muriel. He finished the delightfully whimsical and brightly colored piece a few days ago. He is so proud of his work and Muriel is very pleased with the results.
Last week, I met Ben, Muriel's son-in-law. He wanted to come and meet us, because Muriel had been talking about these wonderful boys and DRC. While we were discussing ways he could volunteer at the Center, he briefly mentioned that Muriel's family is so thrilled that she seems more content since working with the two boys. This past Tuesday, I sat down with one of the students to complete his quarterly report. He has been deeply enmeshed in the natural decompression phase, lately, and was fairly unenthusiastic about the whole process. He came in wearing a fleece blanket wrapped around his shoulders and a hang dog look on his face.
The first thing I mentioned to him, while the Macbook was booting up, was Ben's comments about Muriel and how much she appreciated spending time with him and the other student. The blanket slid off his shoulders as he sat up straighter and became completely absorbed in writing the report. I was thrilled to offer him favorable feedback, later that week, because he had been positively and happily engaged in projects, and activities every single day.
Muriel and I had another conversation this past Friday, when I asked her permission to write this, and she mentioned again, how much she loves spending time with the two boys. She said, with a grin, that she especially enjoys hearing the second student, yell, “Hello Muriel”, from the DRC 'Chill Space', when she enters the hallway everyday.
Life itself is sometimes messy and disappointing, however, it can also offer quiet (or emphatic) moments of joy and exhilaration. As mentioned in previous posts, life is about choices; sometimes the options appear crystal clear and other times they need a catalyst to bring them into focus. I am so honored and proud to be the lens that highlights these opportunities for people, so they can make the connections and bring mutual delight and appreciation into each other's lives.
DRC NEWS We are always looking for volunteers to facilitate classes, mentor, help with individual projects, or to clean our space. If you would like to join our amazing pool of volunteers to offer your time and talent, We would love to hear from you. You will find two current needs below.
We go on an excursion every Thursday afternoon and have grown beyond the number that will fit easily into the dedicated vehicles. If you are available to drive a few of these fantastic kids, and participate in some awesome field trips, please get in touch. Thank you!
A few of our students are planning on building some lockers/cubbies for the center. They need some expert help. If you are willing to volunteer some time to this project, please let us know.
If you know of a youth who would be interested in joining this fantastic crew of young people, please have them contact us to learn how. We are taking applications for the 16/17 academic year. We are also happy to have students join us for the remaining 8 weeks of this year.