Read some of their stories below…

Stories about our work with Veterans:

At The Behavioral Health Unit of the VA Hospital: He came into the group room and immediately curled up in a ball in the corner. Finally we persuaded him to sit in a chair, though he ducked his head and wouldn’t look up. When we passed out art materials, he only reached out a hand to receive his without making eye contact. He quickly drew a colorful tangle of lines, then sat rocking in his seat, seemingly uninterested in what was going on. But when I invited the group to share their drawings about their resilience, he was the first to speak up. “This is my picture of love” he simply stated, and for the first time looked me in the eye.


At The Behavioral Health Unit of the VA Hospital: Our theme was about the nautilus, whose outgrown chambers are filled with air to help the creature float and move forward in the water. He was the first to settle down with the oil pastels, immediately going to work drawing his response to what can lighten his load as he moves forward in his difficult life. Exacting lines and multiple colors emerged as he drew. In the end, he shared memories of his grandmother and how visits to her farm were highlights of his life. The birds were for freedom, and the snail a testament to how slow movement can be, but at least the snail has a smile on it’s face.

Honor A Veteran Flag Project at the VA Hospital: She came hesitantly to the table, looking over the art materials with longing. We invited her to make a flag to honor a veteran and asked if she was one. Yes, she was, but she didn’t want to create a flag for herself. She wanted to honor her comrades left behind when she left the service. She stayed for a long time, carefully picking out rubber stamps and ink colors to create a vibrant flag listing the names of fellow soldiers. Her shoulders dropped, her breathing quieted and she left with a big smile on her face as she thanked us profusely for the creative opportunity.

 Stories about Cancer Infusion families:

We invited patients and their families to create thank you cards to give to the staff. Many of these patients came every week or two, and had to stay in their infusion chairs for hours at a time, with some staying up to eight hours. They welcomed the opportunity to express themselves using paper, pens, images and stamps. Being able to give back to the staff was healing and strengthening.

One day at the clinic we worked with an older Samoan woman and her sister. They loved all the materials, examining everything with great glee. Both of them created cards that showed their unique and joyous spirits. The patient wished she could make cards with her two children who had to stay at home – she didn’t have access to art materials like the ones offered there.


He was a Sacramento State student from Ethiopia. Not only did he make a general thank you card for the staff, but he made two more cards: one for his friends who took him to Tahoe to see snow for the first time in his life, and one especially for his nurse. Although he was very hesitant at first, by the time he was done he felt energized. “It is refreshing to have a vision come to life” he said. He really appreciated the coaching about how to view things in a different way. Our conversation about cutting images differently and changing their orientation on the paper became a conversation about how to change his view of his own personal life.