Helen Arts & Heritage Council, Inc. - Helen

The grant funding made it possible for the Veterans and AVITA groups to have all the supplies and tools necessary for all planned activities and made it possible to fund the part-time Art Therapy Coordinator position which serves these programs.   We welcomed a new veteran and his wife this year and they came here, as she described, “as their last hope.” He was suffering from common issues of a returning war veteran and was very quiet and non-social and had little interest in the activities of the group.  They continued coming to the Tuesday workshops and soon he began talking to other veterans. His wife saw this as progress because she indicated that he rarely conversed with anyone. With each passing week we saw positive changes in his behavior and social skills. His overall interaction with others was improving tremendously and she thanked us for helping them to return to a degree of normalcy. Most recently, he suffered a stroke and underwent emergency surgery and was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. His doctors at the VA Clinic, Asheville, NC praised him for being involved in the art workshops and strongly advised him to continue his involvement because it is a vital instrument in improving his overall health. It’s challenging to put into words what we actually witness firsthand in these sessions.  The group has become a nucleus for the organization’s success and a most valuable resource for returning war veterans and their families.

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