Elizabeth talks about her art, while baby Scarlett grabs at her legs.
“I usually paint depending on my mood. I like to focus on nature and trees, because it’s easy and calming,” says Elizabeth. “I’ve always been interested in painting, but I never thought I’d have the chance to try it.”
In the five months since Elizabeth has been living with her daughter at Catholic Social Services’ (CSS) Goretti House, she has attended art therapy every other Thursday with other CSS youth.
“The creativity workshops give these young people something productive to do in the evenings in a positive environment,” says Amber Gulevich, a CSS child and youth care worker. “They can access their feelings through the canvas, and they end up with a real feeling of accomplishment.”
Elizabeth has completed about 10 paintings and quietly admits that she is proud of her progress. In fact, one of her pieces is featured on the poster advertising the fifth annual Spring Art Walk.
The annual silent auction event features art created by more than 25 youth. Many of the artists are young girls living in safe residences for vulnerable youth. The profits from each purchased painting are shared between the artist and the Sign of Hope. Funds raised through the annual Sign of Hope appeal, to which the Spring Art Walk contributes, support as many as 20 different CSS programs and services—including Goretti House.
Goretti House opened in September 2017 and serves young women between the ages of 14 and 24, some of which have children, like Elizabeth does.
“It was difficult to find supportive housing for young women who are high-risk and parenting young children,” says Gulevich. “When they’re turning 18, they’re aging out of services, and are particularly vulnerable. Here they can learn to parent effectively and build their life skills, with the aim of transitioning to independent living when they’re ready.”
Living at Goretti House allows Elizabeth to care for her daughter and upgrade her education, so she can become a high school graduate.
Between raising her daughter, maintaining her school work and attending creativity workshops, Elizabeth is living a busy life.
“I’m nervous but excited,” says Elizabeth, adding that her confidence has increased since starting this new chapter of her life.
Spring Art Walk is taking place on Friday, March 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Telus International Centre (11104 87 Avenue NW). Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance at Catholic Social Services offices. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org