One of the main things that was important to Janet and me when we started Creative Edge Art Studio was to give back to others and to have an impact on people’s lives; particularly young lives. We’ve been able to do this in various ways since we opened, but one of our favorite ways is by partnering with Building New Foundations and working with the boys at The Good Shepherd RTC.

Building New Foundations is a non-profit committed to building and refurbishing homes for disadvantaged adolescents in the greater Houston area. They began informally in 2009 when a group of friends and colleagues within the construction industry offered to perform small project improvements for a non-profit organization called “The Good Shepherd”. The Good Shepherd is a residential treatment center that exists to rehabilitate and treat boys between the ages of 7-17 that have endured the most awful forms of abuse and neglect and have been deemed by the state as “high risk” children.” In 2013, the informal original members deemed it was time to formally organize and created a non-profit organization with much higher aspirations of assisting and meeting the needs of disadvantaged youth of the greater Houston area.

I was first introduced to Building New Foundations in 2015 when I was invited to play in their poker tournament benefiting the organization. I was moved to tears as I listened to the story of these boys and I saw the passion, dedication, and the love the volunteers had for the boys and for the project to build a new campus for The Good Shepherd. As I sat with tears streaming down my face, I knew immediately that I wanted to be involved. And although we were still busy forming Creative Edge Art Studio, I knew the perfect way we could volunteer.

Each year the boys of The Good Shepherd create the trophies for the winners of the poker tournament. In 2016, Creative Edge Art Studio was a trophy sponsor and volunteered time and materials to create the trophies with the boys. We traveled to The Good Shepherd with all of our paints and materials to have each boy create at least one trophy. When the boys arrived, some were excited to get to paint, while others groaned and were reluctant to participate. As they sat there painting, you could see them begin to let loose and have fun. You could see them beginning to express themselves; to use the art as their therapy. They were able to put aside their angst, frustrations, worries, and most importantly their pain, even if for a little while. They were all so proud of their creations- many wanted to keep them, or wanted to know who was going to get it. They were happy.

We were excited to be a trophy sponsor again this year and to see the boys again. Unfortunately, at the last minute the boys were unable create the trophies. We quickly had to develop an alternate plan. Instead of getting together with the boys, we had the board members and volunteers for Building New Foundations create the trophies. Once again, we happily packed up our paints and many, many boxes of foam heads and headed to Kirksey Architecture to start painting. Funny enough, there were similarities between our experience with the boys and the adults. Some came in groaning saying they couldn’t paint, or they weren’t creative. As they started painting, they let loose and they relaxed after a long hard day at work. Taking the time from their busy schedules to create something was therapeutic for the adults, just as it was for the boys. By the end of the evening, some of them had painted 2-3 heads.

The results of our evening are pretty creative! It amazes me how Building New Foundations brings people together. Normally, in everyday life, the people working together to create this campus for these boys are competitors, but they set all of that aside to come together for this wonderful cause.

The trophies will be on display around the studio for the next week, so if you walk in and wonder what is going on with all the heads, you now know! If you don’t come in regularly, we’d love for you to stop by to see these in person- they are impressive!

The 2017 Poker tournament will be held Friday, May 5th at The Bell Tower on 34th. There are still opportunities to participate, or to go as a spectator. To get more information, or to register, please visit their website. You can also get involved through donations or volunteering. We are planning on doing a different art activity with the boys later on this year.