Volunteer Appreciation Month: The Artist Collective at IndependenceWORKS

April 17, 2023

Volunteer Appreciation Month: The Artist Collective at IndependenceWORKS

Volunteer Appreciation Month: Artist Collective at Independence Works

Volunteering is at its most meaningful when it is personal, and that is the case for JF&CS volunteers Sugandha and Ivy. Both have recently contributed their unique gifts and talents to help facilitate the innate creativity of clients in The Artist Collective. The program serves clients as part of our Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Services here at JF&CS. Volunteers lead monthly projects for the group, which can include painting, food decorating, tie-dying, and more. The popular program is fun and cathartic for both clients and volunteers.

Sugandha is the owner of La Dee Da Studio, a children’s art studio in Sandy Springs. She was introduced to the program through her close friend Lauren Harris, longtime JF&CS volunteer who is now our Leadership and Engagement Officer. “It’s a beautiful and meaningful way for me to share my creativity and gift with others,” said Sugandha. “I love that art has no boundaries and speaks to all. It can help process emotion; it can bring about connection through collaboration. Art can be soothing and healing, both physically and emotionally.”

A Mitzvah Project for Love of the Arts

In honor of her Bat Mitzvah, seventh grader, Ivy chose to raise money for supplies for the Artist Collective as her mitzvah project. She then organized the art room at the IndependenceWORKS Building so that participants could fully enjoy their experience in a beautiful and organized space.

Ivy’s mother Heather first connected with JF&CS when they relocated to Atlanta four years ago and is now a participant in the Kay Family Leadership cohort. When it was time to do the mitzvah project, “I talked to (Ivy) about doing something that she wanted to do. She loves art and is good at organizing things, so this was something she liked doing and is good at. She really enjoyed giving back in this way.”

“I wanted Ivy to be involved in all steps,” added Heather. “I wanted her to see the impact more than if we only donated money. If (teens) can be introduced to mitzvah projects at an early age, it sets the stage for volunteering in the future.”

For both Ivy and Sugandha, volunteering with the Artist Collective has been a gift that continues to give back in spades. In her bat mitzvah speech, Ivy said “in the spirit of venatnu, I am getting back because I will enjoy seeing the smiles of people using the art room. JF&CS Atlanta helps people in so many ways- with the food bank and giving garden, counseling, housing, career services and so much more. It's nice to know that if I ever need something, JF&CS Atlanta would be there for me,” she said.

“I enjoy that a simple hour can bring so much joy to someone’s day,” said Sugandha. “Little things that we take for granted daily are enhanced through a fun morning spent with the clients. It is fulfilling and leaves me with a greater sense of purpose and fulfillment in my own life…every session spent volunteering leaves me feeling grateful, humble and with purpose.”