Art 4 a Purpose is seeking support from the community to help people heal from child abuse.
The organization, which uses art in a variety of ways to raise awareness of child abuse and support victims, is planning to build a retreat center for those affected by childhood abuse and has established a GoFundMe page to fund the project, according to Kimberly Lajzer, Art 4 a Purpose founder.
“I always knew art helped heal and had a purpose in the world, but I had no idea where this adventure would take me,” Lajzer said.
She went on her own healing journey in 2008 when an incident of violence sparked painful memories for her.
“While I was beginning to uncover my traumatic past, I was invited to participate in the first Art of Chocolate for Options (a domestic violence shelter in Morganton),” Lajzer said. “For the show, I created the painting ‘The Children Are Ours to Protect.’ It was latent with symbolism from my own childhood and how I wished I would have been protected. Creating this painting was very cathartic in my own healing process. The painting was collectively auctioned off so Options could display it in their shelter. It raised over $3,000.”
Her aunt encouraged her to present an art show featuring artwork symbolizing her own and others’ experiences of abuse and recovery, which debuted at the Jailhouse Gallery in 2010.
“That's when I realized Art 4 a Purpose was born, and its goal was to shed light on child abuse,” Lajzer said.
The organization received nonprofit status in 2015.
“Prior to the pandemic, we focused on outreach programs, sharing art and information on statistics, characteristics and facts about abuse,” Lajzer said. “We had a yearly talent show and did a lot of onsite work with people one on one. As people were involved in artwork, it was easier for them to disclose their experiences.”
The coronavirus pandemic and statewide restrictions forced Art 4 a Purpose to halt its outreach programs. In another hard blow, flooding from recent hurricanes reached the organization’s headquarters, destroying most of its artwork, art materials and office supplies. Undaunted, Lajzer has found ways to overcome obstacles to further her mission.
“We offer an art award, where teachers nominate students who show artistic potential that may otherwise get lost in the cracks,” she said. “We are working effortlessly on getting our book series out to psychologists, counselors and clinicians. We have also been creating enlightening word art to share with communities, encouraging positivity, strength and healing.”
She said God inspired her to create a retreat center for child abuse survivors.
“My motives and inspirations for Art 4 a Purpose have all been God driven,” Lajzer said. “One day, I woke up and was divinely inspired to buy some land in the South Mountain area. I knew it was meant for great things. I knew it would make a great healing retreat center.”
She said the 5-acre property is located on the back side of South Mountains State Park, next to South Mountain Baptist Camp.
As I looked back on my favorite stories of the year, I realized the common theme among them …
She envisions child abuse survivors using the center to assist in their recovery.
“People who come to the retreat center will be surrounded by nature and wildlife, putting them at ease,” Lajzer said. “There are several prayer gardens on the land for journaling and introspection and quiet time. Participants will be exposed to several modalities of the arts and work in mini-workshops, where they will have the opportunity to use their chosen modality to express their grief. Grieving is the first part of healing. We will be able to create community art pieces and provide art studio time to those in need. All of the arts will take on a huge role in this endeavor.”
She plans to have mental health and other professionals onsite to work with visitors.
“There will be counselors available to help them through their grief, give them direction and simply listen,” Lajzer said. “We have a lot of interest from trained psychologists to counselors, retired nurses, therapists, licensed social workers, healers and musicians who would love to be a part of this endeavor -- each will have an integral role in each retreat. They are just waiting for us to set up the programs so they can be a part of it. We await the funding to build the retreat center. The GoFundMe Campaign is to get our retreat up and running, so when the pandemic ceases, we will be able to jump in to help others heal from abuse.”
To make a donation, visit https://gofund.me/928434ab. Donations are tax deductible.
“One out of 3 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will be sexually abused before they are 18,” Lajzer said. “In America, there are over 700,000 children abused each year. In 2018 over 1,770 children died because of abuse in America alone. In the USA, it is estimated that there are over 50 to 60 million adults that survived abuse. Please join us -- the need is great, and in giving to the retreat center, you will help abuse victims heal so they can grow and help others heal as well. You can help break the cycle.”
To learn more, visit art4apurpose.org.
Staff writer Tammie Gercken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.