Community Healing Arts Initiative Helps Struggling Vets

CHAI Program graphic

Tidewater Arts Outreach has partnered with the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation (VBCDC) to provide high-quality arts programs through C.H.A.I., Community Healing Arts Initiative.  The recently completed series of pilot programs brought visual arts, visual journaling and drama workshops to area veterans in subsidized housing.  The VBCDC was looking for a way to bring the community closer together, and they found it, through this successful partnership with TAO.

C.H.A.I. Series I—Drama

Professional actor and long-time TAO workshop leader Ryan Clemens (Virginia Stage Company) facilitated the CHAI TAO Improv series. He led vets in warm-ups, playbacks, call and response and other improv challenges. “Drama class has some amazing benefits,” said Clemens.  “You build self-confidence and poise, gain conversation and teamwork skills and understand viewpoints, just to name a few.”

“The Tidewater Arts Outreach CHAI program enabled our veteran neighbors to express themselves in a fun and creative way, without reminder of the challenges that they experience daily,” said Leah Williams, VBCDC Director of Programs and Continuous Quality Improvement.

C.H.A.I. Series II—Visual Arts

Professional Artist Ken Wright (d’ART Center) helped participants transform blank canvas into personalized patriotic reflections of their military service with his Realism to Abstract Form painting program. The series ended with a field trip to visit Ken’s art studio, an opportunity for participants to immerse themselves the visual richness of the gallery and its inspiring and imaginative artwork.

“I really liked painting my own portrait of the American Flag with Ken Wright. He would always come in and say, ‘Great Day in the Morning!’ and indeed it was.”  Jewel Jones, Neighbor

C.H.A.I. Series III—Visual Journaling

Author, teacher, writer and artist Donna Drozda shared her personal insights and strategies, plus writing and imagery tips and techniques in her Resilience & Reinvention: ‘The Eyes Have It’ series of four workshops.  Participants were given good-quality drawing pads and art supplies, plus lots of guidance and encouragement, as they explored Visual Journaling, a new path to creative self-expression.

“We all had fun interacting with each other,” commented one veteran.

We invite you to support this creative and effective form of service for our local veterans.  The Hampton VA would love to have more of the drop-in jam sessions Tidewater Arts Outreach provides, and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth would like to receive more art opportunities from TAO for their patients in Pediatric Oncology.  Your contribution can help make these programs happen.  Please help us spread the word about this important work, and make a donation today to support our programs for military veterans and families.  Thank you for your help!