Nearly a dozen children who live at Angel House, a family shelter in Hyannis operated by Housing Assistance, had the opportunity for some summer fun when a local arts organization welcomed them to their classes free of charge.
Fashion designer Aiste Zitnikaite taught young shelter residents the basics of sewing.
The Cordial Eye is a community nonprofit arts organization that offers programs for children and adults who are from historically excluded communities, including low-income and disabled people, according to co-executive director Mary George. “We want to reduce the barriers they face to accessing opportunities to engage with our creative community,” she said.
When Paula Mallard, Housing Assistance’s vice president of homeless services, heard about Cordial Eye, she asked Staceanne Sykes, a housing search specialist at Angel House, to see if any of the shelter’s children would be interested in taking classes. The kids were eager to join exercise, drawing and sewing classes, but there was one issue: there wasn’t room in the Angel House budget for the cost of the classes.
“We’re the only arts organization within walking distance of Angel House, so we wanted to form a partnership,” said George. In just a few days, she was able to get donations from 20 private donors and the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod to cover the class fees of over $2,000.
George said the children enjoyed the programs and that many of them talked about the challenges in their lives. “It feels really meaningful to be able to provide a safe place for these children to create friendships and have fun,” she said. “We had one parent say that this is the first normal thing her children have had in a number of months after losing their permanent housing.”
Sykes said the response from families has been totally positive. “Our families have been so blessed to be invited to the programs at Cordial Eye,” she said. “The children love the time they’ve spent in the classes, and the staff at Cordial Eye is very helpful and caring. We hope to have to an ongoing partnership with them.”
To learn more about Cordial Eye, visit thecordialeye.org.