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Art of Hope: Celebrating the Importance of Art in Recovery

Ursula V. Battle | 5/11/2018, 6 a.m.
Chuck Knudsen, Helping Up Mission (HUM) board member and the Inspiring Hope Leadership Committee chair; Gayle Kelly, co-chair of the ...
Chuck Knudsen, Helping Up Mission (HUM) board member and the Inspiring Hope Leadership Committee chair; Gayle Kelly, co-chair of the Inspiring Hope Leadership Committee; Keith Thomas, Helping Up Mission client; and Jim Longenecker, Helping Up Mission Chief Relationship Officer and Inspiring Hope Campaign director. The group is standing in front of a rendering of the HUM’s Women’s and Children’s Center slated to open fall 2020.

These well-dressed men sang, recited poetry, served desserts they created and marveled at the sight of spectators who were buying their artwork. These were the men of the Helping Up Mission (HUM) during “The Art of Hope: Celebrating the importance of art in recovery” event and silent auction, which was held recently held at HUM, located at 1029 E. Baltimore Street in Baltimore City.

Tastings were created by the HUM Culinary Team and included an array of desserts. The evening also included a Silent Auction featuring artwork by former and current residents of HUM. The Peabody String Sinfonia performed with the HUM Choir and soloists.

“This was the second year we have presented The Art of Hope,” said John Longenecker, Helping Up Mission’s Chief Relationship Officer and the Inspiring Hope Campaign Director. “The event gives us a chance to highlight how important art is in the recovery process. Art helps the men to share their feelings, and is really a therapeutic part of recovery.”

According to Longenecker, there were 35 pieces of artwork displayed. He teaches some of the classes along with community volunteers.

“Some of the men come in knowing they have artistic talent, while others discover it while they are here,” he said. “They were very proud and excited about Art of Hope. They thought it was great. People really connected with their artwork and what they were trying to convey.”

He added, “They were thrilled their artwork was sold and raised money to give back to the mission. It inspired more men to create artwork, which we auctioned off at our annual graduation banquet.”

HUM was founded in 1885 to meet the needs of Baltimore City and the surrounding counties’ poor and underserved residents. For 132 years, HUM has developed deep roots among the inner city’s disadvantaged people, helping countless individuals overcome poverty, homelessness, and addiction.

HUM is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, serving 500 men daily in eight distinctive programs, which include Overnight Guest Services and a Spiritual Recovery Program (SRP).

“We provide the 500 men we serve each day with all of the services they need to overcome barriers presented by addiction,” said Longenecker. “The goal is to help them address the original cause that led them to use, and find hope in the future. Events like Art of Hope help others in the community to see the talents the men in the program have, and breaks down some of the stigma associated with addiction.”

HUM also works in partnership with the Baltimore City’s Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services to provide a day shelter program from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. for 60 women in safe, warm accommodations on East Chase Street. A $35 million HUM - Inspiring Hope Campaign has been launched to build a brand new facility to provide a home environment for up to 150 women who are battling addiction and their children.

“We are in the beginning stages of the capital campaign,” said Longenecker. “The facility will be located at 1216 E. Baltimore Street. We are very excited.”

He added, “It is important for us to partner and collaborate with organizations in the community and individuals. It will take everyone collectively to raise the funds that are needed to overcome this growing epidemic.”

Groundbreaking for the 78,000 square foot Women’s and Children’s Center is set to begin fall 2018 with occupancy targeted for fall 2020.

“We hear a lot of news about losing the battle against addiction and the despair,” said Gayle Kelly, who co-chairs the Inspiring Hope Leadership Committee with her husband Frank Kelly, III. “But there are victories and good news. These men have battled long and hard and we are here to love and encourage them. We see their success and know the need to do more does exist.”

She added, “There is no place in Baltimore like the Helping Up Mission for women to go, and that is tragic. We wanted the Helping Up Mission to expand to include women. We are ecstatic to see that happening, and the timing is right.”

To donate, volunteer, or inquire about HUM services, call (410) 675-7500.