By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
DUNNVILLE — LVW Creative Barracks, an art centre and gift shop located in Dunnville and curated by local artist Lacie Williamson, is launching a fundraiser aimed at creating opportunities for local seniors to get involved in the arts community through free classes.
“The Barracks is meant to be a creative home for creative people of all ages and abilities. We opened with a focus on children’s programming but soon grew to offer creative educational programming for all ages and abilities,” said Williamson.
LVW has partnered with local organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Children’s Aid Society, Community Living, Bethesda, and Haldimand Norfolk Community Senior Support Services. With the pandemic limiting in-person class options, the business has grown to offer online creative classes as well as offering activity kits with instructional YouTube videos. Over 500 kits have been sold since the start of the pandemic.
“In March, we sent out a request for feedback from our newsletter subscribers and past and present students. One of the biggest points of feedback we received was that although our programming is valuable and reasonably affordable, many seniors don’t have the disposable income to attend extracurricular classes,” said Williamson.
From this feedback, the Play It Forward for Seniors Program was born, with the goal of funding free programming with help from Senior Support Services.
“The program includes the sale of watercolour paint kits, which include 10 hand-drawn colouring pages printed on watercolour paper, a 36-colour paint set, and brushes with no need for an online tutorial. There are three themes to choose from: animals, words of inspiration, or floral arrangements. We will be offering free tutorials on YouTube for those who would like an introduction to working with watercolour paint.”
“My biggest concern was: if we fundraise the money, how can we reach the seniors in need of programming? This is when I learned that our local seniors and their families are in desperate need of help. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, opportunities like the Day Away Program are either drastically limited or not at all operating,” explained Williamson. “This means dozens of local seniors are lacking support, socialization, and recreation.”
She spoke about how the raised funds will be used: “50% of sale profits will fund free programming for seniors and their families with two types of opportunities. Seniors will be able to register for scheduled programs of interest, with no charge, when our studio is able to open again. Haldimand Norfolk Community Senior Support Services will assist in marketing these opportunities to their clients, but any senior interested is welcome to take advantage of the offer. Funding will also support free family workshops so seniors can enjoy free classes with their children or grandchildren. If the COVID-19 restrictions continue into summer, we will use some of the funds raised to create new kits for distribution to our seniors unable to attend Day Away Programs.”
Williamson is feeling encouraged by the positive support she has received so far: “We’ve been running the fundraiser for just over a week, and we’ve already had over a dozen kits donated. It’s so exciting to see the community come together for our seniors. I encourage any family members of seniors or seniors themselves to reach out to our studio if they’d like to benefit from a kit, or from future programming when it’s available, especially if they don’t have a connection with Senior Support Services already.”
The kits are available for purchase online until April 30 for $35 at barracksbythegrand.ca/shop.
Customers can purchase a kit for themselves or to be given to a senior for free through Senior Support Services. Additionally, those interested can contact LVW at 905-774-1882 or email@example.com to set up a curbside pickup or delivery. Kits will be ready on May 1.