Connie Whitlock noticed there weren’t any community art classes offered in her Northwest Phoenix area.
Whitlock wanted to create an organization that involved residents and, being an artist herself, she knew how therapeutic art can be for people of all ages.
So, in 2006, Whitlock founded WHAM, What’s Happen’n Art Movement. WHAM offers classes for anyone from 5 to 105 years old. Participants include children, at-risk teens, special needs groups and veterans. Recent classes have also included survivors of sex trafficking.
Participants can explore drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry and photography. Whitlock has observed children become more focused while creating art. She has seen people with dementia smile, recognize and communicate with others.
“Art is an idea that someone is attempting to express to the world and to the world around them,” Whitlock said. “Art is so important to being a human.”
Last year, WHAM received a $7,500 grant from the Arizona Republic-sponsored Season for Sharing. In total, $2.1 million went to 176 organizations that help children and families, teachers and students and older Arizonans. This year’s fundraising campaign kicked off Sunday, Nov. 14.
HOW TO DONATE: Make an online gift to Season for Sharing.
How many individuals do you help each year? We serve everyone no matter age, race, gender, religion, economic status or art abilities in the West Valley. Approximately 20,000 people a year are served through classes, events, exhibits, public art and festivals.
How was the Season for Sharing Grant spent? Season for Sharing has helped our veteran’s program Art: A Path to Healing, by providing funding that pays for art supplies and a free lunch twice a month to veterans and first responders.
How do you gauge your success? By the responses we get from those who are involved with our programs and who come to an exhibit or event. We also determine success by the individuals who continue to participate.
What are your greatest needs? Funding. We also want people to know about our work in the community and for participants to talk about their experiences with WHAM.
Share a success story? A veteran who enrolled in painting classes appeared nervous due to his PTSD. He would pace up and down, and he suffered from anxiety. When he first began, his paintings reflected anger and hardness. He would only paint using dark colors. During his time at WHAM we saw his paintings evolve. He began to paint using softer and different colors. Art had become a way for him to release his anger and helped him deal with his stress and PTSD.
5 ways to give to Season for Sharing
- Fill out the secure, online form at sharing.azcentral.com.
- Text “SHARING” to 91-999 and click on the link in the text message.
- Go online at facebook.com/seasonforsharing and look for the “DONATE HERE” post.
- Clip the coupon on Page 4A of The Arizona Republic, fill it out and mail it to P.O. Box 29250, Phoenix AZ 85038-9250.
- Scan the QR code.
Republic reporter Roxanne De La Rosa covers Arizona’s nonprofit community. Reach her at [email protected].