What started out as a small grassroots organization in the 1970s with a passion to help kids now stands as Free Arts for Abused Children, a nonprofit organization that trains and places volunteers to work with victims of child abuse. Every year, they reach more than 25,000 children in the greater Los Angeles area who live in homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters or tend to frequent family/community resource centers.
The organization has developed four main creative arts programs allowing abused children to participate in both artistic and educational activities. Half of these programs run for eight weeks in which the groups meet once a week in an effort to maintain consistency. One of these long-term art programs places one adult volunteer with a group of children. They participate in fun, introspective art, such as self-portraits, and learn about topics ranging from art history to theatre/drama.
Parents and Children Together (PACT) is another long-term, eight-week program planned by Free Arts. Two adult volunteers are assigned to and meet up with a small group of families once a week. They participate in projects developed by licensed art therapists. This program serves a variety of families, from those who simply do not have enough quality time to spend together to those who have bonds and relations to mend.
A third, short-term Free Arts program, Free Arts Days, takes form as a type of art festival. This is an opportunity for businesses to get involved and serve as volunteers. The organization has a goal of planning one Free Arts Day a month, with a minimum of ten local festivals a year.
The fourth of their programs is a short-term, yet unique idea that thoughtfully considers and is aimed at an audience of kids that may too often be overlooked: the children in the waiting room at the courthouse. The organization serves at a courthouse in Monterey Park, where the Department of Child Services inevitably brings in cases of adoption and child abuse/neglect. This makes for a presence of nervous children in the waiting room amidst chaotic life situations.
“There isn’t much to do for the children besides wait in anxiety,” Trevi Fountain, the Community Liaison of Free Arts, said.
The organization therefore provides activities that “get their minds off of the situation” through fun, interactive arts and crafts projects.
“The attorneys and judges have pointed out that there is a noticeable difference between a child who participates in this program,” Fountain said. “They have more confidence in talking with the judges and authority figures, and are less on-edge.”
On June 1, Free Arts will be celebrating the work of their children through “Art Works!” The spring fundraiser and celebratory brunch aims to “honor its history and envision its future.” There will be an art exhibition of the children’s artwork, which includes the film works accomplished through the organization’s partnership with the New York Film Academy. The event will also include a silent action and catering by Fig Restaurant. Tickets are $90 for one, $150 for a pair, and $1,000 for a table of ten. All proceeds will go toward benefiting the organization’s programs.
The fundraiser will be held at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica, located at 101 Wilshire Boulevard. For more information regarding “Art Works!” contact Development Manager Amir Moini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Arts for Abused Children is located at 5301 Beethoven Street in Los Angeles. For more information, visit freearts.org.