Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our CLASSy Volunteers

Every other Thursday, a special group of volunteers visits the Mattress Factory. They're all participants in the day program at United Cerebral Palsy/Community Living and Support Services (UCP/CLASS). UCP/CLASS serves people with a wide range of disabilities who live in Allegheny County, offering programs that build on individual strengths and promote inclusion in the community. Day program participants volunteer at Veteran's hospitals, offices, and nonprofits in our community, and luckily, we're one of the stops for some art-loving volunteers.

Sherry Johnson and George Ryden visit us every other week with their enthusiastic program coordinator, Teresa Martuccio, and sometimes bring along new volunteers who have heard how much fun they have and want to see the museum for themselves. Our UCP participants help with any number of tasks: they stuff folders, they unwrap and prepare materials for installation, they staple our exhibition guides - and most importantly, they fill our lobby with cheer and joy. They love the museum as much as the staff, and like all of our volunteers, they're an important part of the MF family.

Not only do Sherry and George volunteer their time for the museum, they both create art through UCP's art classes. Sherry is a sweet, gentle woman who loves color - her favorite is purple, although she's told me that there isn't a color that she doesn't like. George is a sunny and energetic young man who loves sports, especially the Pirates. Both of them are enthusiastic artists, and you can even buy their work here at the MF - we sell greeting cards in the shop featuring Sherry and George's paintings.

Working with volunteers is one of the best parts of my job as Visitor Services Coordinator, and UCP's visits are a highlight in my week. It's a joy and a privilege to work with individuals who give back to their communities and are as passionate about art and the museum's mission as we are.

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