Art Classes at The Regent Are Back in Session—Virtually!

For nearly a decade, Rutgers Community Programs (RCP) has been a dedicated community partner of Volunteers of America-Greater New York. Many individuals have benefited from their generosity, but it is the children and staff at Regent Family Residence—our Upper West Side transitional family shelter—with whom RCP has formed a special bond, located just a mile and a half away from Rutgers Presbyterian Church.

It’s because of this bond that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, RCP immediately wanted to support the children and families at the Regent. They provided beautiful art sets and activity books for each child in the recreation program as well as other craft supplies to help the children stay engaged while in their units—socially distanced, but not socially isolated. Recently, instead of the usual in-person art classes, RCP adjusted by taking things virtual. They trained VOA-GNY staff at the shelter to conduct the art classes and led the children through art tutorials via Zoom. By continuing this extracurricular activity that the children know and love, RCP helped return a sense of normalcy to their lives at a time when it was needed most.

“These virtual art classes have truly been a blessing,” says Jasmin Gilchrist, Childcare Liaison at the Regent. “The children were excited to see and interact with their peers who attend different schools. Our recent sessions helped bring some of the kids together who were used to attending recreation and monthly gatherings at the program. It also allowed us to introduce new faces to the program that have been hidden behind the masks.”

She explains that it’s been refreshing for the staff as well. “We’ve been so distant from the children within the last year due to COVID-19. It’s good to see the children in passing around the facility. They are now comfortable stopping and chatting with staff who they use to be unfamiliar with.”

From the moment RCP first got involved with VOA-GNY just after Hurricane Sandy, they have been a reliable partner, providing year-round support to the men, women and children in need in our programs. Beyond hosting art classes for our children, they’ve donated gifts for adults during the holidays, held food drives, and supported VOA-GNY’s annual campaign, Operation Backpack®. We are grateful for RCP’s continued partnership and look forward to many more years serving the community together.

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