‘When We Come Together, Great Outcomes Occur’

Story by Jamie Higgins

For the past 54 years Community Service, Inc. has been dedicated to helping change the lives of youth and their families. In October, they continued that mission with the start of a new art therapy program funded by the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Arts Council.

“We are so thankful to our supporters for helping us make this program available to youth in the River Valley,” said Mike Worley, CEO of Community Service. “When we all come together, great outcomes will occur benefiting our community and the future of our state.”

Community Services’ Healing Arts Program provides therapeutic art experiences to help youth by providing valuable life lessons. Art therapy is based on the idea that the creative process of art making is healing and life enhancing, a potent form of expression which helps an individual learn and gain perspective at the same time. Art utilizes the creative process while promoting growth, self-expression, self-esteem, perseverance, adaptability and responsibility. By participating in the process of creating art, youth are able to deal visually with emotions, express things they cannot express verbally, and release emotions which will help them recognize different perspectives in life.

The program is taught by Virmarie DePoyster, an artist in residency with the Arkansas Arts Council Artists in Education Roster.

“Perspective is vitally important in art, life and in education,” said DePoyster. “Art perspective literally shows the reference of one thing to the other, life perspective helps one keep balance, and education perspective demonstrates relevance between knowledge and everyday life.”

The youth involved are learning how to apply the elements of art and principles of perspective to design, creating their own works of art in an “I Love Sketchbook.” As the title implies, the sketchbook will be comprised of items that give joy and love to the youth participant.

The program’s goal is to reduce emotional stress through the creative process.

“Art and the self-expression it encourages increase the youth’s self-esteem and helps them share their perspective based on individual experiences,” said DePoyster. “Art Education also helps develop character and imagination while teaching how to apply the elements and principles of design.” The Healing Arts Program also provides trust-building activities focused on promoting open and healthy discussions. The theme of perspective in life will be woven into each class, each piece of art and the overall program.

“Design is all about perspective, which brings us back to what they, as individuals, actually see,” said DePoyster.

The art program concludes Nov. 28 at the River Valley Art Center where the youth’s artwork will be on display for a short time before the sketchbooks return to the participants.

Community Service, Inc. helps youth from all walks of life without regard to a family’s ability to pay.

“Since 1958, Community Service has never turned away a youth or family that needs assistance,” said Worley. “We have also never required payment from those families’ personal finances.”

Last year 1,600 youth benefited from the help of Community Service. Almost 300 of those were helped at the Russellville office located at 1505 S. Oswego. Community Services’ professionals are committed to helping youth in need through prevention and education, therapeutic foster care, day treatment, substance abuse services, mental health services and juvenile justice.

They are accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) and are a member of the Arkansas Youth Service Providers Association. Their programs and services are licensed or approved by the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, Arkansas Child Welfare Licensing Board, and the Arkansas Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention.

Community Service is also a proud part of the River Valley United Way, Central Arkansas United Way and the Heart of Arkansas United Way. Community Service Board members representing the Pope County area include Ray Moll, Jeff Turnbow, Marti Wilkerson and Jan Hill.

If you have youth in need or would like to find out more about Community Service and how you can help feel free to visit www.communityserviceinc.com or call (479) 967-3370.

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