For the April issue of Amarillo Magazine, I had the honor of spending some time on-site at The PARC, where I interviewed staff and the organization's members. The Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center is located near downtown on Sixth Avenue. It's designed to be a place where Amarillo's homeless community can engage in creative pursuits between meals, job interviews, or other appointments. It's a safe place that provides human connection and meaning for a population who typically are only focused on survival.
From the story:
“They don’t get called by name. They don’t have time for someone to sit and look them in the eye and have a relationship with them,” she says. “We felt that was the missing link in breaking the cycle and finding confidence to do the things needed to get out of homelessness.”
Until the PARC, Amarillo’s homeless population didn’t have a safe, hospitable place to be productive and creative, a place to engage in meaningful conversation, or even to do something most people take for granted: starting a project and finishing it. “When they come here, we have projects for them to do and classes for them to participate in,” says executive director Valerie Gooch. “They can start something and finish it. If they don’t finish it, it will be here the next day.”
I love using creativity as an approach to help struggling people step out of a vicious cycle that can begin to strip their lives of meaning and usefulness. Everyone I spoke to at The PARC was happy, friendly, and eager to talk about the things they were creating. Volunteering here looks like something anyone can do—they want volunteers to show up, sit at a table, join in a creative pursuit (from adult coloring books to painting to other crafts), and just engage someone in a conversation. Easy.