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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Free Arts for Abused Children

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Volunteering Oportunities

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

36 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In 2005, I participated in my employers Food & Toy Drive Committee. We were in the process of choosing a non-profit organization to sponsor for our Holiday Silent Auction Event. It didn’t take me long to find Free Arts For Abused Children. Their bright colorful website pulled me in and I began reading about who they were and what they did to help abused and at-risk children. I immediately fell inlove with the stories and pictures that they displayed. After they recieved the proceeds from our silent auction, it didn’t stop there with me; in 2006 I decided to become a volunteer as well. The team that ran Free Arts were wonderful, full of energy, and just about the nicest people you could ever meet. I wanted to do whatever I could to help by bringing them to our community services events, and participating in their Art Explosion Committee because I believed they were making a difference in childrens’ lives. Volunteering and seeing children participate in special activities has been very rewarding for me. You can see the changes in their attitude and behavior from the moment they walk in, to the moment they finish their project. I remember one Free Arts Day, there was a teenage girl who was a bit quiet and reluctant to participate. The first task was to come up with a word to describe their current emotion. She stared at her blank canvas for awhile. Some volunteers casually went by to encourage her. After seeing other girls write words like, “Anger”, or “Sadness”, she began to write as well. Perhaps knowing it was ok to actually write what you were feeling, or that she wasn’t the only one who felt that way, may have helped. She later created one of the best works of art I have seen. I understood then, that every inch of that painting was an expression of her emotions; all the rich colors she chose, the chaos and structure in it, every brush stroke, all represented something she was feeling at that moment. Her frown turned into a smile after it was completed. She knew what she had accomplished, step by step. That was an amazing experience for me, to see the postive changes happening to someone right before my eyes. Their smiles and laughter are worth a thousand words. I have seen many wonderful works of art from kids of all ages. You can clearly see that Free Arts helps build confidence and self-esteem through their workshops and activities. I can honestly say that Free Arts has a special gift. Not only do they have the tools to help children, they also have the kind and positive energy that children need to be around. The volunteers they train have that same quality as well. I am honored and humbled to be a part of Free Arts for Abused Children and will continue to show my support.

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This wonderful organization does everything possible to help the at-risk children of Southern California. I don't know how they manage because there are so many children and not enough funds to help them all, but they do. The staff is always available and always so grateful for the help of the volunteers and the community. Recently they held a t-shirt decorating workshop so the volunteers could design their own t-shirts to wear when they volunteer. I was impressed with how well Free Arts took care of us and also the creativity in the t-shirt designs. I'm sure that for the children to see such expression on the volunteers' clothes will go a long way toward inspring and comforting them.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've volunteered for Free Arts for the last couple of years. I have seen how the programs contribute and enhance the childrens lives. Free Atrs is truly and amazing charity, it has several different programs that help build self esteem in abused at at risk children.

13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

While I was working I always felt I was too busy to volunteer, then in April 2007 I left my job. I quickly became bored and heard of VolunteerMatch and there I found Free Arts for Abused Children and it touched and broke my heart, I immdediatly contacted FAFAC,By November 2008 I was a volunteer,it was the best thing I could have done!!!! I truly enjoy every Free Arts day I attend!! I especialy like to attend 5 Acres Residential Home. There is always one child that tugs at my heart and I want to bring them home with me!!! I have recently started the process in becoming a Special Friend to this lovely needed children!! I love Free Arts for Abused Children the staff is very kind hearted and a very wonderful organization. Hugs, Leonor

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!

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.

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!!

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!”

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!