Being located on the Central Coast of California certainly has some great perks. As we all know, we’ve got beautiful beaches, pretty perfect weather, and amazing wine and local cuisine, just to name a few. But by far, our area’s greatest perk is the strong community-spirit that pervades San Luis Obispo County. We here at FCNI see this spirit demonstrated time and time again. Our community continuously rallies together to meet the needs of our youth and families at every event we host, at every holiday campaign we embark on, and we always have the most dedicated and kind-hearted people volunteer to help us achieve our mission. One of these volunteers is Rebecca Geddes of Rebecca Geddes Artistry. Rebecca has been one of our most faithful volunteers over the years; giving her time and resources to paint the faces of countless children at Miracle Miles for Kids, Back-to-School Barbecues for our families, our holiday community parties, and probably many other events.
Recently, we had a Social Worker come to Christina, our Volunteer Coordinator, to ask if we had any connections to an artist who could help meet a special request from one of our kids. After thinking through the request, Christina immediately thought of Rebecca and her amazing talent. The request was simple but special: a foster youth wanted to have a mural painted on her wall to help her cope with the anxieties she struggled with on a daily basis. Rebecca not only agreed to complete the project, but she took special care in making the experience a positive one for both her and the youth. The following is from an interview with Rebecca as she recounted her experience working with this youth and the impact this special project had on both of them.
I came up to San Luis Obispo from Southern California in 1993 to go to Cal Poly’s Art Design Program. After graduating, I thought I would leave the area and go to Los Angeles or San Francisco, but I ended up staying, getting married and settling down in SLO County. I spent a long time in web design and user interface design, and about five years ago, I left my job and decided to fill my time with something that connects me to my community and makes me happy. I created a site, Rebecca Geddes Artistry, to house the things I do with art, but I’m just a person who loves to be involved in the community. I’ve always loved volunteering, and several years ago I started volunteering with Family Care Network at their fundraising events. I started picking up face painting and needed a place to practice my skills, so I started doing face painting for the Family Care Network events and for a few other local organizations. I do face painting at Miracle Miles each year, as well as at the holiday parties, Back-to-School Barbeques, and other Family Fun Days that Family Care Network organizes.
Christina, the Volunteer Coordinator at Family Care Network, approached me and asked me if I had ever done murals. Christina told me that an FCNI social worker had come to her with a unique need: a young woman in foster care wanted to paint a mural in her bedroom that would help her anxiety, something peaceful and calming. I remember what life felt like at her age, and being that I still struggle with anxiety at times, I was excited to help facilitate the project, This was an issue that I personally understand and really connected with. I’ve always loved doing murals and hadn’t had an opportunity in a long time, so when Christina approached me about this opportunity I said yes!
Together with this amazing young lady, we took three full days to plan and then create the mural in her room. I wanted her to be very happy with the result, so we started with sitting in her room and sketching. We talked through different ideas and I let her come up with a design vision for the mural for her room. She loves art, so we spent a lot of time sketching ideas until we were very happy with the design. It was a great opportunity for this young woman to be able to express her ideas and feelings through imagery before we spent a few days painting. The results were amazing!
This whole experience was very rewarding for me. Face painting is fun and exciting, and always look forward to seeing the happy smiles when I’m done, but I get two minutes with each kid tops. This was the first time I've been able to spend a few days and build a relationship with a youth in this capacity. It was more than just painting something on a wall. The connection we had was really something special to me. I’m hoping that it was exciting for this young lady as a budding artist to see that you can do a little sketch and then bring it to life on a big scale. I was hoping to be an art mentor through this project, but I also hope that she was touched by the experience of having someone from the community invest time in her and help her make her space peaceful and beautiful. I have a sense of connection and community, and I think the experience also showed her that there are simple but meaningful ways to be connected to others in the community, and that there are many people who care about her.
We are always looking for volunteers to get involved and make a difference in the lives of those we serve! If you are interested in volunteering at events or in another capacity, please reach out to us at FCNI.org/be-the-difference or by calling 805.781.3535!
Below are a few more pictures of the mural project: