Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Habitat art project opens new doors for Dade City students

DADE CITY

As soon as Cpl. Mary Guyer walked into the Habitat ReStore, her eyes were drawn to the eight decorative doors that lined the back of the showroom. One of the brightly painted portals depicted a circle of children overlooking the world, as well as a line of Habitat for Humanity houses.

"My kids did this," whispered Guyer, eyes filling with tears.

Standing at Guyer's side were those 30 junior artists, young residents of the Dade Oaks public housing development. Guyer meets every day with the kids at the Dade Oaks Community Center in her role as Officer Friendly. Her job is to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children.

"Every day after school these kids come to me," said Guyer, who became an Officer Friendly two years ago. "This is a place where they know they will be safe and loved."

And productive, as indicated by the eight brightly painted doors that are now permanent fixtures at the Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco. Yet in Guyer's eyes, the doors they painted at the community center are far more than decorative art pieces. They are entryways that could lead to a better life for the students who created them.

Guyer's Dade Oaks students meet weekly with representatives from the Prodigy program, a nonprofit that uses visual and performing arts to reach at-risk youth. The program serves about 500 children in Pasco County alone.

"Prodigy sends me three instructors and art supplies free of charge," said Guyer. "My kids take these supplies and make something beautiful."

Under the guidance of Guyer, Pasco Prodigy site manager Jacqueline Bayliss, and Prodigy teachers Jennifer Willis and Adrian Errico, her students have created painted portraits, Christmas ornaments and clay collectibles.

"And they made posters for me," Guyer said with a smile, "to tell me they loved me."

Through contacts at Saint Leo University, Guyer got word of a community project that required the students' developing talents.

The east Pasco Habitat ReStore, which sells salvaged building supplies and other used items, received a surplus shipment of donated doors that they planned to use as decorative pieces in the store showroom. The problem was that these used slabs of wood, while still sturdy and functional, were hardly eye-catching.

What they needed, according to Habitat ReStore officials Jere Ferguson and Niki Trapnell, was a child's touch. They asked Guyer to put her kids — and their imaginations — to work.

"Kids in that area have limited access to things they can do and few art supplies at home," said Trapnell. "I thought we needed to get them into the store."

Ferguson and Trapnell asked the kids to base their designs on their personal concepts of home.

"The only limit to their creativity was their own imagination," said Ferguson.

The young artists set to work emblazoning the old doors with murals that depicted various concepts of home. One displayed a multicolored puzzle with a few pieces missing. Another showed a school of fish swimming the depths of an aquarium.

The redecorated doors were delivered to the ReStore at 15029 U.S. 301 in Dade City, where Guyer and the students got to see them Tuesday on display in the store's showroom.

Ferguson and Trapnell thanked the young artists for their work, offering them pizza and balloons and encouraging them to sign their art. The kids stared at their doors with wide eyes, pointing to the images with exclamations such as "Wow!" and "Cool!"

"We taught the kids that they could take these old, ugly doors and turn them into something beautiful, something that would help them give back to the community," said Guyer. "They took pride in their work."

Through these projects and others, Guyer says that her kids are discovering their creative sides.

"The students are now taking a special interest in art and drawing," she said. "Here they are discovering an ability and talent that they might not have discovered anywhere else. And if kids get excited about their talents, it gives them something to look forward to in the future. This could keep them off the streets."

And that, says Officer Friendly, is the whole idea.

"We want to make a difference in the lives of these kids," she said. "We want to show them that the sky's the limit."

. To learn more

About Habitat

For information about Habitat for Humanity of East and Central Pasco County, visit www.habitatpasco.org, www.facebook.com/habitatpasco, or call (352) 567-1444. For more about the Prodigy program, visit www.transformingyoung

lives.org.

Habitat art project opens new doors for Dade City students 01/23/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 8:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It's fake

    National

    The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

    A framed copy of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009, that hangs in at least four of President Donald Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, is fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time. The real March 2, 2009, issue of Time featured actor Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump. [Left, Time; right, Angel Valentin for the Washington Post]
  2. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid

    Editorials

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  3. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Blogs

    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.
  4. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO

    Editorials

    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …