Around 300 veterans showcased their talents during this year’s Veterans Creative Arts Festival (VCAF) at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Healthcare Center in North Chicago, Ill. After receiving a $2,500 Veterans Creative Arts Festival Grant from the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation, Homer Dahringer Unit 281 purchased art and ceramics supplies for both VCAF and the yearly creative arts program. This included green ware, paints, brushes, craft kits, easels, canvasses, markers and other supportive supplies.
According to the Lake County News-Sun, all festival participants are enrolled for care at the Lovell Center, either at the main campus or at local outpatient clinics.
Lovell Center recreation therapist Tricia Stewart said 90 pieces of artwork were entered in 2017. In 2018, that number nearly doubled to 160.
“It’s so important to support and validate art-making for those with physical and mental disabilities,” Stewart said.
Prior to this year’s festival, artwork was put on display at Lovell to ensure all veterans and staff could enjoy the creativity before the competition. The festival itself was then held at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill., in early March.
Unit 281 Secretary LaVera Davis said continuing this program will increase self-esteem and give veterans a sense of pride while providing a great therapeutic value.
“We truly appreciate this grant from the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation and to all it has made possible,” Davis said.
To learn more about the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation’s Veterans Creative Arts Festival grants and how you can apply, visit www.ALAFoundation.org/grants.