Since its inception in 1989, Project H.O.M.E. has served the Philadelphia community. The organization, which focuses on ending the cycle of homelessness and creating a support system for those in need, offers a variety of resources for community members to take advantage of. Project H.O.M.E.’s Art Program offers individuals the opportunity to express themselves and narrate their own unique stories.
“There’s other tools to [use] instead of getting your guns and fighting,” said resident participant Harold Brown (above left).
He uses the program as a creative outlet to express emotions. He finds that art is an alternative to other violent forms of displaying emotions.
From painting and jewelry making to textiles and creative writing, residents can express themselves through multiple avenues. The art program also offers special volunteer-led programs in eight-week increments.
Participants are able to showcase their work in art shows across Philadelphia and earn money by selling original pieces. These rewards not only offer an incentive to residents but also encourage them to remain focused on their goals and personal growth.
Rachel Ehrgood (pictured above), Art Program coordinator at Project H.O.M.E., connects the purpose of the initiative with the mission of Project H.O.M.E. as a whole.
“We think of it as ‘home’ as like, when you’re practicing art, you’re finding your spiritual home… you come into your creative center and [you’re able to] find solidarity and security amongst your peers and yourself,” said Ehrgood. “You get that feeling of being ‘home’ through your art practices.”
Residents also acknowledge that expression through creation is a necessary outlet for coping with life struggles. Julia Galetti (pictured below) has been a participant with Project H.O.M.E. for 13 years. She is an active member and has even earned a grant to teach a textile class. Galetti believes the program allows residents to release emotions in a positive way.
“[For] a lot of people it helps relieve their stress, their anxiety, their problems and troubles,” said Galetti. “If they have any, they can channel [the energy] into creating something.”
Project H.O.M.E. looks to continue assisting residents with the help of local artisans and through partnerships with organizations like the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts.
-Text, images and video by Sequioa Hall.