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Local Art Project Aims to Inspire Hope

Sheila Van Houten established the Advocacy Art Project to distribute paintings for free to patients who need uplifting and encouragement.

Editor's Note: The following is a United Charitable Programs press release from PR.com.

Even before she recognized her own artistic ability, Sheila Van Houten watched her father as he looked at the art cards she had brought for him while he was in the hospital. She observed that he looked at each of the cards thoughtfully, and then closed his eyes and fell asleep peacefully. “I believe those art cards helped him make his transition, and I never forgot their effect. Now I have art cards of my own paintings to share! I think he is quite happy about it.”

Van Houten was inspired to establish the “Advocacy Art Project,” sponsored by United Charitable Programs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. This project’s goal is to distribute free art cards to those who need uplifting and encouragement. People who suffer from all forms of illness and injury are very vulnerable and downhearted, and are often at risk for depression. Van Houten said, “People respond in such positive ways to my art; even patients with Alzheimer's and other kinds of memory impairment. My website, DiscoveryArt.Info shows actual patient responses to my work.”

As a career coach by training, as well as a licensed and ordained minister, Van Houten has been instrumental in helping thousands to live happy lives and find meaningful careers. In addition, she has developed more than 30 services to help people on their way. It wasn’t until May 5, 2011 when she discovered her artistic capabilities, at the age of 67.

In this second year of Advocacy Art Project, she will again distribute a minimum of 100 sets of art cards to patients all over the world. Currently, her paintings are inspiring hope in such countries as New Zealand, Thailand, Spain, France, and the United States. She has been encouraged to present her art to the Minneapolis Art Institute and the Walker Art Center for use in their special programs for memory-challenged people.

“My paintings all contain hidden faces that I didn't deliberately paint in; they just appeared as the paint dried! Even Alzheimer's patients have a great time discovering these faces. It’s exciting to me to see their reactions. This is why I call my art ‘Discovery Art.’”

When asked why she came to United Charitable Programs to become the fiscal sponsor of the Advocacy Art Project, Van Houten said that it was just a matter of logistics. Starting an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization can be an overwhelming task. Not only is there a daunting amount of paperwork to file, but there are a plethora of ongoing reporting regulations from the IRS that must be followed. “A friend suggested UCP to me, and when I found out how they take all the pain and agony out of setting up and running a 501C3, I was sold. I am free to do the work I am supposed to do. They make things so easy, and they are a great group to work with.”

The Advocacy Art Project is located in Richfield, MN. Their mission is to place fine-art prints and meditation/prayer cards into the hands of patients for their spiritual and emotional comfort and well being. The project advocates through art for people of all ages and conditions who need encouragement, inspiration, and a new way of looking at the world and beyond. You can visit their website at http://www.DiscoveryArt.Info to see the art projects, and to read some testimonials on how the art has inspired others’ lives. All donations to Advocacy Art Project are tax-deductible.

For more information about fiscal sponsorship of charitable programs, please visit unitedcharitableprograms.org.

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