Imagine you are living on the streets. No roof to cover your head. No refrigerator. No food. Just the clothes on your back. Your outlook on life is grim, and you feel like the loneliest person on earth.
Or maybe you are living with a disability. People constantly look over you. They don't think you will amount to anything productive. They pity you or ignore you.
Maybe your family situation is a volatile one. Your parents abuse each other or you. There is nowhere for you to turn. No one who understands you.
Then, just as you think nothing good will ever happen, one person comes along and changes your entire life -- using art.
For those struggling, their lives were drastically altered when these nine people entered their lives using their artistic ability.
ArtLifting sells artwork from disabled or homeless people. They take paintings, prints and other products and sell them online. Of the proceeds, 55 percent goes to the artist. The remaining one percent goes into implementing art further into the lives of the homeless and disabled. They've helped develop art programs into social service agencies, shelters and disability centers.
The other 44 percent goes into strengthening ArtLifting. Liz Powers started ArtLifting when she was just 18. She obtained a grant from Harvard to start art groups in homeless shelters. Immediately, she was surprised by the amount of talent she saw. She and her brother, Spencer, started ArtLifting in November 2013 with four Boston artists. Today, ArtLifting has expanded to 19 locations all over the United States.
2. Art From The Streets
Art From The Streets started in 1991. A volunteer-run, non-profit, Art From The Streets gives Austin's homeless a safe place to make art. They hold art classes at the Trinity Center at Saint David's Church. The art made during these classes are then sold during an annual public art show. They have also created a documentary where they follow five of the artists for one whole year.
3. HOME is where the ART is
HOME is where the ART is a non-profit that provides framed art for people transitioning from homelessness to their new homes. They receive everything by donations from local businesses and people of the community. Allison Stocks created this non-profit when she was just 13 years old. She read an article about a local homeless family finally getting an apartment.
The photo of the apartment showed bare walls. She felt it didn't look like a home so she decided to start the non-profit in her hometown of Arlington, Virginia. She spoke to local artists and shelters and soon gained enough donations to give artwork to over 50 people in the Washington area.
Canstruction was created in 1992 to help feed the hungry. The idea for Ccanstruction came from a group of architects and engineers from New York. They created city-wide competitions to bring together construction, design and engineer industries. The participants of the competition have to put together a structure using mostly canned food. The most creative and most elaborate structure wins. After the competition, all the canned food is donated to food banks. They chose canned food because the food lasts longer and is safer since it is in a can.
5. Homeless Homes Project
Homeless Homes Project began with Oakland artist Gregory Kloehn. He noticed Oakland had two growing problems: the growing homeless population and people dumping their trash in illegal places. To fix both of these issues, he used his construction background to create small, Volkswagon-sized, homes for the homeless using things he found in the illegal dump sites.
6. Art Start
Art Start aims to help at-risk youth living in New York. Kids living in shelters or at homes with parents going through crisis are Art Start's target area. They bring art workshops that allow the kids to work with local art teachers on projects.
7. Broad Street Ministry
Broad Street Ministry has weekly art days for the homeless or mentally disabled. They have art tables with multiple mediums to choose from. They say creating the art is a form of therapy for these people. There is no specific theme; people just create what they are feeling.
8. Pulitzer Art Foundation
Pulitzer Art Foundation created a five-month program for ex-cons and homeless veterans to connect with Buddhist artwork. They put on shows, look at art and learn all they can about Buddha.
9. Art 4 The Heart
Art 4 The Heart was founded in 2011 by sibling duo, Nina and Kyle. At ages four and six, they became interested in helping homeless people by serving them lunch in the church they attended. At the ages of 14 and 16, they started giving out art they created for homeless people transitioning to their permanent homes. At first, they created all the art. Now, they work with local artists to make and distribute art to these newly-homed people.
These nine people really do prove that good still exists and that one small action can change the life of someone else.