By Ellen Chappelle
Edmonds’ Seaview Weavers Guild is quietly preparing to give the gift of art to a very deserving organization. For months, they’ve been painstakingly creating brightly hued banners to bring warmth and color to the walls of the Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center in Shoreline.
“We thought this could be a nice way of bringing awareness to this much-needed facility for the severely disabled,” explained Guild member Mary Peterson. She also expressed the desire to “beautify the otherwise sterile environment” for the residents and staff, reflecting the compassionate care that takes place there.
Liz Patterson, former speech language pathologist at Fircrest and parent of one of its residents, is gratefully anticipating the donation, slated to take place on Tuesday. “Artwork is always appreciated and adds to the atmosphere of love and caring that is so much a part of Fircrest,” she said. “Many of the residents and their families have very little money and these donations help provide extra beauty in their homes.”
Peterson is excited about the Guild’s donation to Fircrest and their ongoing commitment to the facility. “We made fabric hearts for the residents last year and delivered them for Valentine’s Day and hung them on patients’ walls, wheelchairs and tube feeding poles,” she said.
Art enhances cognitive function
In addition to beautifying the facility, the donated wall hangings may actually provide therapy for Fircrest’s residents; Art has been shown to offer health benefits – especially to the elderly and those with compromised health or mental function.
An article on the website of Aging Well magazine states, “Several studies show that art can reduce the depression and anxiety that are often symptomatic of chronic diseases. Other research demonstrates that the imagination and creativity of older adults can flourish in later life, helping them to realize unique, unlived potentials, even when suffering from Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.”
The article goes on to say, “Neurological research shows that… art enhances cognitive reserve, helping the brain actively compensate for pathology by using more efficient brain networks or alternative brain strategies. Making art or even viewing art causes the brain to continue to reshape, adapt, and restructure, thus expanding the potential to increase brain reserve capacity.”
Peterson agrees that art can be therapeutic. She has been teaching art for five years to “adults, special-needs kids, and more recently at the Denny Juvenile detention facility” and she has personally ”seen the benefits of the creating process in creating self-esteem, validation and empowerment!”
Peterson has personal experience with special-needs children, as well. Her own 18-year-old daughter Jessica is on the autism spectrum. She attends Lynnwood High School in their special-needs classroom and work experience classroom. “She loves school and socializing,” says Peterson. “Unfortunately she is not the least bit interested in art… ironic! But she enjoys having me come into her classroom and the social aspect of being in the realm of creativity.”
Fircrest serves the developmentally disabled
at Fircrest Center, a state-run facility established in 1959. Fircrest provides rehabilitation services to about 200 people with developmental disabilities in a residential setting.
The residents “all live on campus, in homes with an average of eight people,” said Patterson. “Most of the people who live at Fircrest today are either elderly, medically fragile or have severe behavioral challenges. There are a few people who come to work in the Adult Training Program [which offers job training and work experience] who do not live on the campus.”
Listed as a Center of Excellence, Fircrest has been named one of the top 10 nursing homes in the nation. But in this economy, even facilities offering high quality care are no longer safe from budget cuts. “The therapists at Fircrest [also] provided services to people living in other community settings,” said Patterson, but this funding has been cut by the legislature.
“With budget cuts and staff layoffs, it has been more difficult for staff to keep up with the “housekeeping” tasks,” Patterson said. “Fircrest has been looking for volunteers to help with gardening, art work, musical entertainment, decorating homes, assisting residents to attend church, leading exercise classes, visiting with therapy dogs, etc.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the facility for more information.
Seaview Weavers Guild enhances our community
Despite their name, the members of the Seaview Weavers Guild want you to know they’re not just weavers! “Although we like to honor our over-fifty-year history by retaining the (original) name, we have expanded our interests into all the fiber arts,” says their website.
“Knitting, spinning, papermaking, printmaking, book arts, felting, silk fusion, card making, surface design on fabric, quilting, soft sculpture – if it can be done with fiber, we do it.”
And do it, they have! For over half a century, the members of this delightful community of artists have been creating everything from quilts to scarves to Christmas ornaments. On the day I visited, they were making fascinators. Not quite hats, these colorful, whimsical head decorations are popular at formal occasions in England and premium horse-racing events such as the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps we’ll soon see them around Edmonds!
These self-described “fuzzy around the edges” fiber artists enjoy coming together for a monthly meeting that includes show-and-tell, art exchanges and workshops where they teach each other various crafting skills.
It’s all about “getting together, learning and getting inspired,” says member Astrid Bear. “We do so many different things. It’s fun and educational.”
The Guild welcomes new members and encourages local artists to attend one of their meetings, which are held on the second Tuesday of each month from September through May at Maplewood Presbyterian Church in Edmonds. Members pay dues, but the first meeting of any new attendee is free.
Groups like this enhance the fabric of our community by furthering creativity and connection with like-minded souls. They also offer their members a place to belong, a feeling which often grows into the desire to reach out to others, as the Guild members are doing for Fircrest.
Peterson illustrated this by saying simply, “I have a heart for bringing art to the less empowered.”
With a background in theatre and journalism, Ellen Chappelle is perfectly poised to covers the local arts scene for My Edmonds News. She also keeps busy writing and editing for artists and small businesses, publishing an informational site for dog owners and creating handcrafted jewelry. Please keep her posted about all things artistic in Edmonds by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.