Seated to the side watching proudly was Ali Wunder, the Art Camp and Outreach Coordinator for The Art League. This was her first year with SOHO, so naturally, she ended up learning just as many life lessons as she taught the girls.
"Despite the difficulties that many of them have in life, once they get going on a project, they are totally focused and involved," she says.
|Early on, the girls personalized aprons for use in their many art projects.|
Also on the agenda was a video of the bedroom transformations. Before and after shots, along with the girls' reactions upon seeing their new rooms for the first time, were huge crowd-pleasers, as the hard work and progress were laid out in full-color film. Family and friends let out their "oohs" and "ahhs" in approval.
Wunder was also excited about the art exhibit showing in conjunction with the ceremony. "This is family time for the girls," she says. "This is their chance to show everyone what they accomplished; the rooms, the art work, the new skills."
Reactions from the girls' families have been all-around positive, says Wunder. "They are there in the houses while the girls work on their bedrooms," she says. "So they see how devoted the girls are to the project. It's been a great response."
The benefits seem endless, so when asked to put the overall good of the program into a few words, Wunder had to stop and think for a moment. Then, finally, she said: "It gives them a sense of accomplishment. They have learned these life skills and applied them to something. Here, specifically, it's the room project. They created the color schemes, they painted the walls and furniture, and they made the art on the walls."
"Dinner time with the program is important and really one of the nicest times of the day," says Wunder. "Aside from learning things like portion control, table manners and balanced meals, the girls see that sitting down to a meal is a great way to connect." The program uses the dinners to show the students that it is a social, intimate time where they can talk about the day with loved ones. The mentors, though not actual family, make a point to show interest in the girls' conversations, creating that feeling of comfort during meal time and taking an active interest in the girls as individuals.
|Community service is a big part of the SOHO mantra.|
|A "before" shot of a bedroom...|
|...and the after!|
|Late afternoon on a fishing excursion during one of SOHO's camping trips|
|group shot, four of the SOHO girls of 2011!|
|Getting in touch with nature...|
|One of the rooms in progress! A fresh coat of paint makes such a big difference...|
|Before the transformation...|
|The Lamp Project: the girls use their creative skills to make beautiful shades for the rooms.|
|A job well done.|
|One of the SOHO girls proudly displays her handmade message board.|
|The Art League School instructor Patrick Kirwin demonstrates tape painting as part of the SOHO "wall hanging" project. The large hand-painted boards hang in the girls' rooms as decorative accents.|
|Silk painting adds to the girls' design education. Look at that detail!|
|SOHO Class of 2011|