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Painting for a Purpose

September 21, 2012

The meartsed blog interviewed Tina Edwards who tells the story of how individuals with a passion for painting and caring about education and youth are making a difference.

1.   Please tell the meartsed readers about “Painting for a Purpose”. How did it get started, whose idea was it for the project, how long has it been in place?

Painting for a Purpose (PFP) got started in a couple of ways.

I took a “Fanciful Furniture Painting” class in Cape Cod in the summer of 2006.  I really loved it. One of the things that I loved was how easy it was to get started and another was the great group of women who had been attending this class for years. The class meets weekly. They were all so creative and cheered each other on by giving ideas and support. When I came back to Maine, I really wanted to find a group to paint with.

In 2009, I reconnected with a friend, Jane Ellis. She and I had worked together in the Portland Public Schools and she had recently retired. We went for a walk one day and began talking about how much we liked to paint. She has done watercolors for several years. We got talking about starting a painting group similar to what I had experienced in Cape Cod. That led to a discussion about the group having a purpose in addition to the camaraderie of  painting together.  We wanted our group to “paint for a purpose.”

Jane and I had both been involved in projects where young people had written grants. Both of us were inspired by what young people saw as important and the work they were willing to do to make change happen. We knew that this what the “purpose” we wanted to support.

2.  What are the main goals/focus for Painting for a Purpose?

We are a group of people who love to paint and who care about education and youth in Portland. PFP brings people together to create hand painted “whimsical” furniture, hosts an annual auction to sell the furniture, and uses the proceeds to fund youth led service learning grants. PFP meets weekly as a group to paint together.

Goals:

  • To have fun together while painting and create camaraderie
  • To raise money for our annual auction
  • To help students put their ideas about how to make a difference in action
  • To be a funding source for youth led service learning grants in the Portland Public Schools.

3.   How many grants have you given out?

We have given out 14 grants in the past 2 years.  All of them have been written by students. They may apply for up to $500.

4.   What are the profits are used? How do students apply for the funding, what is it used for, do parents get involved?

Students apply for funding through an application process. They must identify a problem /issue in the community that they want to address. They must research the problem so that they have an understanding of the issue. This may involve conducting interviews, compiling data, or doing internet research. They need to understand the issue in order to propose a solution that will make a difference.  They must have an adult “ally” to sign off on the grant.

This person can offer guidance and support; however, the grant proposal has to be written by the students and be their project.

5.   Is the project growing? If so, what do you think has helped it along the way?

Yes, the project is growing. In our first year, we gave out 5 grants. In our second year, we gave out nine grants. We are an all volunteer organization so it is the efforts of people helping out that has made a huge difference. The more people learn about what we are doing, the more people then say—Hey that is a good idea. How can I help?

This year, we are doing something a little different. We have designed wooden lobster boats and dories for adult and student artists to paint. Working with the art teachers at the Portland Public High Schools, we have 12 art students paired with 12 local artists. They are working together as pairs to paint a lobster boat and dory. We also have 12 other adult artists who are also painting lobster boats.  These will be auctioned off in a live auction on November 8, 2012 in addition to the other painted items that we will have for the silent auction.

6.   What do you imagine (hope for) Painting for a Purpose will look like in 5 years, 2017?

  • I hope that we are a sustainable funding source for youth led service learning that the schools in Portland can depend on.
  • I hope that the core weekly painting group has grown to about 20 dedicated painters who are enthused about painting and the project.
  • I hope that the core weekly painting group continues to grow as painters and artists.
  • I hope that people in the city look forward to our auction because of the beautiful items that are for sale and because of the wonderful projects that students are doing.

7.   Which part of the project has been the most inspiring? (to you and others who have gotten involved)

I love the excitement and fun of painting together on a weekly basis. I love working with the schools and meeting new people in the Portland community. Mostly, I love hearing from students about how they want to make a difference.  It is always exciting for me to read the grants and equally as exciting to hear about what they learned in the process.

Last year I worked closely with one particular group and at the end, I asked then what was their biggest learning. Overwhelmingly it was to “Never Give Up.”  Very powerful words that I would hope for every student to learn.

The auction is scheduled for November 8, 5:30 to 7:30 PM at Grace Restaurant, 15 Chestnut Street, Portland, $10 for individuals, $25 for families. Thank you Tina for telling the story of PFP!

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