Resident-Run Arts Programs Are Bolstered by Grant Funding

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Residents at Greencastle of Mulford and Greencastle of Allerton in Rockford, Illinois find community and fulfillment in the arts – so much so that they’ve expanded the programs!

Darlene (Dee) DeFrisco leads an arts program called Community Ceramics and Sheila Mace leads a knitting and crocheting group called Caring Hands. It’s been inspiring to watch the crafty women coordinate the respective workshops and heartwarming to watch their fellow residents enthusiastically join them.

Today, 15 residents participate in the Community Ceramics and ten participate in Caring Hands. However, participation has been limited by financial barriers. Many of our low-income residents do not have the disposable income to purchase the supplies needed to create unique artwork and clothing accessories.

But now, thanks to generous funding from the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ (CFNIL) Neighborhood Grants, more residents will be able to participate in the resident-led arts programs.

“I’m excited to watch [my fellow residents] get excited about creating artwork that they never thought they could create,” said Dee. “This is so fun!”

Art with a Cause

Community Ceramics will use its $2,500 grant to purchase six months’ worth of supplies for 25 residents, and Caring Hands has already begun to use its $1,500 grant to purchase six months’ worth of supplies for 20 residents.

The best part: our residents’ artwork always goes to a good cause. The ceramics are displayed in community common areas, donated to local nonprofits and gifted at community holiday gatherings. Meanwhile, the hats, mittens, stockings and scarfs made by Caring Hands participants are donated to local cancer patients, hospice patients and unhoused individuals.

“It’s a blessing that we’re able to do something we already love in order to make a difference in our community,” says Sheila. “And it’s incredible that it has helped form a real sense of community with my neighbors.”

Residents Receive Intangible Benefits, Too

Residents also receive intangible benefits from creating art together. Community Ceramics and Caring Hands are social gatherings that combat loneliness and isolation, two conditions that increase seniors’ risk of dementia by 50%, heart disease by 29% and stroke by 32% according to a study by the National Academies. A growing body of research has also shown that creating art increases seniors’ cognitive function, self-esteem and motor skills.

“We’re grateful to the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois for recognizing the impact that art is having on our residents,” says Director of Social Services and Quality Assurance Jennifer Truppa. “And our residents are having an impact on the wider community through art too!”

“This support will allow us to fund much-needed social services programs in the Rockford region,” says Embrace Living President & CEO Ralph Gaines. “We look forward to future collaborations in order to address our residents’ needs and help the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois fulfill its mission.”

Learn how you can further support resident programming here