When I was having my radiation treatment at Newton Wellesley Hospital, I discovered an art therapist on staff. Some kind soul had donated money to the hospital, so that there was no cost to the patients.
I am someone who never enjoyed making art, because I was always so critical of my own creations. In art therapy, I learned to let that go, to focus on the expression and the process rather than the outcome.
Then I heard about a class in Waltham on making fused glass. I enrolled in that class, several others afterwards. After I found a post on Craigslist for a kiln, glass, and supplies, I created a “studio” in my basement.
I have loved the process. I learned so much from my alleged “mistakes”. Fusers talk about praying to the kiln gods, because you never know for sure what the glass will do when it heats up. Some don’t work out well. Others are more beautiful than I ever would have expected.
Over the years, I have amassed a lot of finished pieces.
In this time of COVID, I haven’t been able to connect with others as I had in the past. I have been fortunate in that I don’t have to worry about losing my job or paying the rent. I found myself wanting to give back. Through friends’ suggestions and my own searching, I found organizations that would be interested in donations of my work.
A homeless shelter took 20 necklaces. A domestic violence shelter took jewelry to auction off in their fundraiser. A friend who works in a nursing home took 150 necklaces to give to the hard working, low wage workers risking their lives every day. An organization to help under-served women will receive 200 necklaces. Another organization that works with the homeless will get 100 necklaces. Jewish families moving into housing will get mezzuzahs to put on their doors.
A wonderful African American man I worked with in the Boston public schools was sent 150 necklaces that have black glass as part of the pendant. He wrote “I can tie in black with the many causes of injustices, and since they aren’t solid black, it would be symbolic of the allies we have as activists. [It] Could be a powerful statement and gift for those I know who are activists. Young and older.”
I raised some money by posting my work on Instagram. 2 sisters who I went to high school with, and who I haven’t seen in 45 years, took several pieces, and made donations to Facing Cancer Together.
I had a 2 day event in my driveway (due to COVID) after Thanksgiving where $1200 was raised for worthy causes. Most of the money went to my recommended organization, Facing Cancer Together. Some money went to help bring homeless dogs from the Caribbean to the US to be adopted. Other money went to help injured wildlife. Some of the people who got my glass wrote to me afterwards about how much they love them. So it really has been a win-win as i have moved from the darkness of my diagnosis to a life filled a new creative energy.
Most of the remaining pieces will go to the thrift shop of a place that teaches those with mental illness or brain injuries to do furniture restoration.
If not for my cancer, I would not have found the art therapist, which led to my working with glass, which led to giving the pieces to those in need, or raising money for worthy causes.
I also feel like I am “paying it forward” for the anonymous person/persons who paid for the art therapy for cancer survivors at Newton Wellesley Hospital.