In PFO, we believe in giving of ourselves selflessly in order to make the world a better place. All of the teens, the staff, and the advisors give to the community around us, not just to help others, but to feel whole as human beings. Over these past few, quick months, I have learned so much about the potential everyone has as human beings and that we are capable of things we would have never imagined.

Being the Visual Arts Experience Advisor has been such a gift. I tell Jen and Kelsey so often that this is what seems to have fallen into my life; it was something I never knew I needed, but now know I couldn’t live without. Each day, I wake up ready and willing to give to others through my talent. I had lost that ambition, that drive, for a while after college, but now that it is back, I understand what my mission in life is to be. I want to be able to help people through art, whether it’s through therapy, education, or just learning techniques.

The way that art impacts isn’t just storytelling, but it’s expression of the self that no one can take away. I recently got a job as a middle school art teacher at a school on the border of South Carolina and North Carolina. My students and I are very different; they come from all walks of life, but mostly from lower-income families. They are growing up with multiple siblings and where the household isn’t just a mom and a dad. The most important lesson they are sharing with me is the yearn to find a voice. Some have disabilities where it’s hard for them to talk, some are talked over, some are just flat out ignored. My duty to them is to be their listener and role model, and if we do some art to express that, that’s great. These teens, as well as our PFO teens, need to be told that it’s ok to ask questions and that they will never be a burden to society. They deserve to have their voice heard no matter the message. No one deserves to be shoved in the corner and told they’re not good enough. The way I can help them share their thoughts, beliefs, and ideas is through art.

I hope that by the end of this year my students, as well as my teens, realize that art is a form of communication that no one will ever be able to take away from them. Yes, you might now be skilled at every medium you would like to be skilled in, but no one can take your talent and self-expression. I can’t wait to see what this year holds and the honor of helping people along their path to self-discovery.