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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Free Arts for Abused Children

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Services, Child Abuse Prevention, Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Crime & Law, Domestic Violence, Philanthropy, Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Free Arts programs inspire hope in the lives of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness through innovative creative arts programs and positive interactions with caring adult volunteers.

Results: In 2012, over 400 Free Arts volunteers donated nearly 14,000 hours of service in order to inspire hope in the lives of nearly 30,000 children at 28 partner agencies, which include: children's courthouses, residential care facilities, domestic violence shelters, low-income housing communities, and family resource centers.

Target demographics: Children who have faced abuse, neglect, poverty, and homelessness, as well as their families.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 28,079 children and 143 adults

Geographic areas served: Greater Los Angeles, including Orange County

Programs: Free Arts Day Program: Children have the opportunity to express themselves, experiment with new mediums, and engage in positive social interactions with adult volunteers at these art festivals. Weekly Volunteer Program: Children have the opportunity to explore in-depth a particular art medium or theme, develop relationships with consistent adult role models, and nurture a better sense of self during the course of a 10 to 20-week program. Courthouse Program: Children have the opportunity to experience relief from the anxiety of their circumstances through participation in volunteer-led arts and crafts projects while they wait for their court hearings. Parents and Children Together with Art (PACT) Program: Families have the opportunity to discover art as a vehicle to strengthen family bonds in a non-judgmental environment created by volunteers during an 8-week program.

Community Stories

60 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

10

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have only been a board member for a year, but in that time, Free Arts has touched my life greatly. I had been looking for a place to serve in the community for a while, but never quite found the right fit. This is it! I am an artist myself, who came from a very dysfunctional family. Growing up, art was my solace. It gave me a place to escape the pain and express the feelings that were raging inside me. The at-risk and abused children we serve don't have access to the art materials that most kids take for granted. This is where Free Arts comes in. We provide the missing link - the materials and the tools to help them express all that is going on. The healing process even for a brief few hours begins. These hours build on themselves and at the end of a volunteer program, you have a group of children who start to feel better about themselves. Their self-esteem increases and consequently their presence in the community becomes less threatening to those around them. I was privileged to attend a Free Arts day at a girls’ home in Hollywood. The girls entered the room with an attitude of why do I have to be here. They were angry, shut down and very defensive. We handed out canvases and paint, magazines and found objects. They could paint anything that came to mind or use the materials for reference. It was a profound experience to watch these girls slowly lower their wall of defense. The one young girl I was working with treated her painting with such care that it became a meditative exercise. After awhile she softened her demeanor, made eye contact and even laughed. On a soul level there was healing taking place. By giving these kids a chance to express their feelings, we had made, even for a brief few hours, a difference in their lives. They were treated with respect and dignity, given a chance to be themselves in a non-threatening and non-judgmental environment. I left with a great sense of joy that I had made a difference in a young persons life. With your support we can reach even more of these children, giving them a chance to move beyond the limiting perimeters that currently define their lives.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I started Free Arts about a year ago and I choose them because art is one of my strengths and I truly believed that art can be therapeutic for the kids. Free Arts requires that you have a training session before you participate in one of their events. I thought this was an excellent idea because during this session they set expectations for you in terms of your involvement with the kids during the events and also things you should avoid while interacting with the kids. The training session seemed overwhelming initially, but once you attend a Free Arts event, you realize it prepares for extreme situations. A Free Arts event is so much fun and laid back that if you stay within the guidelines, you will have no problems interacting with the kids. During an event, the kids are shy at first, but throughout the day, once they start on their projects they begin to open up. And after awhile you also will begin to notice yourself opening up. Which is the best part of Free Arts for me because not only do I have the opportunity to do something for the kids, they also return the favor and helps put everything in perspective for me amidst all the pressures and stress of work. I highly recommend a Free Arts event, after the first event, I promise, you will be hooked.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Free Arts programs are great for building confidence in the children they touch and amazing at rebuilding trust within children who have overcome so much in their short lives. Free Arts programs provide a safe, friendly, and supportive atmosphere for children to really be their own age and forget, for a few moments, all the hardships they've endured and the responsibilities they had to take on at such early ages.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

With the help of the wonderful staff at Free Arts my friends at Saatchi LA and I have had many wonderful events, working with the beautiful children Free Arts supports. Not only do they provide a touching and uplifting experience for the kids - but for the volunteers as well. They make it easy and fun for us to give, and we love them!

5

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Free Arts for Abuse Children is an organization that we as a community can not live without. It is for the the children.

7

Donor

Rating: 5

I can't begin to tell you what a difference this makes for these children. It gives them a place to be free and their art refelects that. You simply must see some of their work. It is amazing to see the incredibly beautiful work that they create. The people who run this organization have been some of the most honest and good hearted people I have ever come across!!! Keep up all the great work!!!

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Free Arts for Abused Children has given me 15 years of involvement with the most rewarding, wonderful, and dedicated organization. I am truly grateful to the staff and our partner agencies for all their hard work for such a worthwhile cause. ART HEALS!

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Free Arts for almost 2yrs. What made me continue to come back year after year was their unique approach to helping children and families. Free Arts is committed is empowering individuals through creative expression. The team works tirelessly to provide a wide variety of programs. I have enjoyed my time with Free Arts immensely. I believe what they provide is a transformative experience for every person involved.

7

Donor

Rating: 5

Free Arts is an amazing organization that helps children and families heal and grow through art. They are a great team of people who genuinely care and are passionate about what they do.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with Free Arts has been nothing but positive! From that first volunteer meeting the staff welcomed me with open arms and continues to keep me up to date and informed on what is going on each month. I am so fortunate to be a volunteer and be given the opportunity to visit the different facilities; To provide support and encourage a creative outlet for these children. Not only can you see a shift in thses kids in just a matter of an hour or two, you see amazing creativity and artwork flow out of them. This is a wonderful organization! ART HEALS!!

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

We have received amazing responses from the children with whom we volunteer our love and art that transform them into creative, positive enthusiastic participants. These children who have suffered abuse and who are responding to us,Free Arts Volunteers...first with trepedations and then with full abandonment when shown ways to express themselves on a canvas with things that often are too primitive for words. Free Arts For Abused Children's two-word philosophy "Art Heals" does work.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Free Arts for Abused Children is a heart-warming organization! I believe they consider me their oldest volunteer, although this has nothing to do with age, because after 10+ years of volunteering, the “giving” exchange keeps me young at heart. I’ve always been drawn to the arts and empowering children in need. It’s very fulfilling to engage with children and simultaneously witness the healing power of the arts. Their stories are all different, whether they have been abused, homeless or at-risk. Yet, one thing they do have in common is their yearning to be recognized and valued. I believe the art programs and ultimately, the free-exchange with an encouraging adult volunteer can be very uplifting. It provides a little hope to their lives, because they are exposed to genuine people who are willing to give their time, just because. My experience includes participating in their Free Arts Days, a mini art festival that provides flexibility for volunteers who can only volunteer during the weekend. It’s a full day of fun based on a creative theme! I’ve also participated in a weekly volunteer program. This provided me a hands-on experience with a group of children whose parents were utilizing recovery-oriented services, aiming to live a sober life. In particular, teaching an art class once a week for 10-weeks was wonderful! I had the joy of coming up with my own art-based curriculum and the consistency of teaching an art class to the same group of children. Hopefully, being positive was contagious and that they learned how to create artwork from recycled products! Lastly, I’ve sat it on some meetings for key volunteers led by the Free Arts staff and they were pro-active enough to inquire about our feedback on how to improve their programs, protocols, staff interaction, etc. Overall, I support Free Arts philosophy that “ART HEALS!”

5

Board Member

Rating: 5

Free Arts for Abused Children is a great organization for not only the deep, positive impact it makes on thousands of children a year but by bringing together hundreds of volunteers so that they can gain a better understanding of their society/culture/city. Free Arts reaches over 25,000 children a year. They bring art into their lives - art can be a tool to express oneself or build self-esteem or bring pleasure or create bonds with others. It's so far-reaching in ways that are intangible. But based on the stories that we hear from our participants, bringing art to children in-need is crucial.

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an amazing organization filled with dedicated volunteers and a small paid (really underpaid) staff. I have seen children and teens respond to Free Arts activities with amazement. They have asked, "Why are you doing all this for us if you aren't being paid?" They are clearly surprised that we like working with them through many art forms. One teen mother was able to begin connecting with her 4 year old son through the Free Arts activities and she told us that she never had a chance to 'play and create' in her own childhood.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a Free Arts volunteer and donor for more than 10 years. I obviously enjoy working with the kids, but Free Arts also has a great group of volunteers and community supporters. Their execution of such a simple mission makes such a major difference for our community.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a Free Arts volunteer for the past 12+ years -- that alone should say something about the organization in itself. Over the years my experiences have been both amazing and life changing due to the dedication of the Free Arts team, the workshops/programs provided and the hundreds of children we are able to reach throughout the community. Children thrive in environments that take their needs, interests, and abilities into consideration. Free Arts provides a non-threatening space using many forms of art and continually shows positive results in the individual lives of the at-risk children we work with. Free Arts gives both the children and their families a safe place to express feelings through specific art projects thus unleashing their creative expression helping move them through the healing process. Free Arts for Abused Children is a remarkable organization and has enriched my own life as well. I would highly recommend getting involved!

9

Donor

Rating: 5

I have been a contributor to this wonderful organization for the past 20 years and I have seen first hand how the children treated under this program transform themselves into productive, well adjusted human beings. I strongly recommend the organization who makes all this possible.

7 advisor

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known Free Arts For Abused Children since February 2003 or about 7 years. I have worked with a number of Non Profits for the past 20+ years. I find them to be dedicated to the children and support and development of there various programs. I enjoy their newsletters and various events and programs every year.