For the past three months I’ve been making weekly visits to The Living Room, a day shelter for women and children in Santa Rosa. It’s become one of the highlights of my week.
The Living Room is the kind of program that breeds devoted volunteers who’ve been coming for years – like the weekly teams that cook delicious and healthy hot breakfasts and lunches for up to 80 people.
Here’s a (standing) sketch I did while trying to stay out of the way of the cooks and servers. They were gracious to not complain!
My main role at the Living Room is to tell the visual stories as they unfold in the moment. The staff and participants have been generous and welcoming and allowed me to be a fly-on-the-wall, (even if sometimes under foot as well).
As I sketch I also get to hear the stories of homelessness and lives in transition. They are the stories of women of great spirit who are becoming my friends and teaching me about what is happening here in the county with our housing and other poorly addressed problems.
There’s a room full of toys for the MAC (mothers and children). It was a busy place that morning and the only place I found to sit was in a teensy chair next to this charming fellow who was rolling out his clay. Believe me it was hard to draw when another part of me was dying to play with the kids.
There are volunteers who can entertain the children so that overburdened moms can take care of other pressing matters – like where to sleep tonight, or how to get to medical appointments.
But moms might also have a break from serious concerns for an hour to participate in one of the groups – art, singing, knitting or meditation!
On Mondays Dave arrives with his guitar and song sheets and a professional lead singer.
. . .in the dining area, where some women are stretched out asleep and others assemble for a chance to sing favorite songs and lighten spirits. That day the songs were those I knew by heart and could sing along while sketching! It certainly lifted my spirits.
I’m working my way around all the activities and am hoping to put the sketches together as a banner to be hung on the walls of TLR, as well as a calendar at the end of the year, perhaps to help with fundraising.
We all love to see our lives in picture form. Apologies though to the women who have allowed their image to be so roughly rendered here. Hopefully the spirit as I experienced it will shine through.
More sketches coming. . .