Nonprofit offers free visual arts programs and fresh start for older adults


Creative. Complex. Cathartic.

“Art is very much like meditation,” Ted Thompson said.

This program is a stroke of inspiration for these men and women.

“This sort of changed my life,” Guy Lawrence said.

“I didn’t know what I would do without it,” Sandra Hines added. “When I retired I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself then I found this program.”

“It’s given me the courage to go back to discover my creative side,” Tony Setteducate said.

And it’s just one of the many classes offered through the nonprofit ‘Elders Share the Arts.’

“We partner with different community organizations throughout the city to provide visual arts, creative writing, and theater residencies,” Jennie Smith-Peers, Executive Director, explained. “And they’re free for older adults to participate in.”

Jennie Smith-Peers joined the organization because of her lifelong friendship with her grandfather. She hopes to change society’s perception of the elderly.

“I don’t think we respect our elders enough,” she said. “I don’t think we value them for the place that they have in our society still, I think we still view them as frail and worthless and dispensable.”

They are far from any of those things, just ask them!

“I have a hard time thinking of myself as being old, mentally, I’m as young as anyone else,” Setteducate said.

“I don’t use the world elder,” Hines said adamantly. “I just say a person who’s out there enjoying life!”

Joy that shines through their canvas as they share who they are with each other.

“It’s just fun, it gives you a chance to be yourself, and bring back all that childishness,” Roz Davis smiled.

“I’ve met friends, I’ve learned about diversity, and I’ve learned about inclusiveness,” Lawrence said. “It’s just a whole lifestyle change.”

A colorful life, I just may be able to make some money off of!

“I’ll sell my collage to you for 1,000 dollars” I said to Thompson. “No,” he replied. “How about 250 dollars?”

“The bid is up to 100 dollars and falling,” I said to Lawrence. “If you sign it, we’ll negotiate the price!”

But the impact a program like this can have is priceless.

“It gives me hope that even as I age that there is potential that I will have a life that is fulfilling, exciting and that matters,” Smith-Peers said.

“We can learn better from the younger generation if they’re willing to learn from us,” Thompson said.