At Mascoma Bank, we know that mental health is a crucial part of a person’s well-being. That’s why we support the community-based nonprofit SafeArt, which uses creative expression and various art mediums to help people work toward wellness.
SafeArt, based in Chelsea, Vermont, encourages people to use all artistic mediums—drawing, painting, dancing, singing, writing—as tools to help with healing from traumas such as violence, injury, isolation, and pandemic-related issues. SafeArt invites both youth and adults across Vermont communities—including Orange County, the Upper Valley, and parts of Washington County—to build confidence and develop coping skills. Co-Director of development and operations Cleopatra Griffin says, “It is amazing to see the transformation people experience at SafeArt. The best sight is watching someone leave a program feeling empowered and comfortable.”
How does art translate into healing? SafeArt creates a safe space for people to come together and have deeper conversations about important topics. These conversations can revolve around creativity, wellness through movement, social justice, climate, how to have a healthy diet, and more. Connecting with other people while engaging in creative pursuits is key at SafeArt.
This summer, SafeArt hosted several summer camps for young people. With the help of the community and the Vermont After School program, SafeArt was able to make the camps extremely accessible for Vermont families by making all camps free and extending the hours so working families with set schedules were able to participate. Griffin says, “We want to make sure our programming is accessible to anyone who needs it. With the help of our supporters, we were able to make that happen.”
SafeArt not only offers their support in the summer months, but also throughout the school year. Through partnerships with local schools, SafeArt brings programming to kids in grades K through 12 to maximize student well-being. This mission is especially critical as we see the numbers of mental health issues in young people rise across the nation.
Mascoma Bank sees the importance of SafeArt’s work in our Vermont communities. In 2013, the bank donated a building space in Chelsea, Vermont, to the organization. “This donation made a huge impact on our financial capacity. Because we don’t have a massive overhead expense of building maintenance or rent, we are able to spend more money on programming and on helping our community.” Griffin adds, “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without Mascoma Bank’s help.”