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Redefining Retirement: Art Helps Heal

Redefining Retirement

After teaching art at Walt Disney Magnet School for more than 30
years, Anne Hollenbeck quickly sought out a new artistic outlet
when she retired in 2010, and began volunteering at Lurie
Children’s Hospital.

While developing arts and crafts projects
for the patients at Lurie Children’s, Anne noticed that only the
younger children were interested in participating. Additionally,
the generous donations the hospital received primarily consisted
of toys, crayons, and games that weren’t exactly enticing to the
older kids and teenagers there.

Inspired, Anne teamed up with fellow retired teacher Shirley
Forpe to develop an art program for hospitalized teens who are
long-term in-patients, and Art Helps Heal was born.

While waiting to receive their 501(3)c status, Anne surveyed
several hospitalized teens to learn what they most needed and
wanted. Many expressed interest in drawing, painting, design, and
even fashion, but due to their lengthy hospital stay were cut off
from taking these electives at their schools. With this
information, Anne determined the mission of Art Helps Heal: to
provide backpacks filled with art supplies and age-appropriate
activity books to teenagers during their stay at the hospital.

In April 2016, Art Helps Heal was officially recognized by the
State of Illinois and became a not-for-profit corporation. Anne
and the whole Art Helps Heal staff have been working tirelessly
on many projects, including (but definitely not limited to)
launching their company website, collecting donations, purchasing
art supplies and assembling backpacks, developing online art
activities, creating an online gallery for the teens to display
their work, partnering with the Museum of Modern Art to create
programs, and creating an activity book on drawing graphic

They were also awarded a grant from the Chicago Teachers Union
Foundation that allowed them to not just launch their pilot
program at Lurie Children’s, but also to expand their efforts to
patients at Comer Children’s, La Rabida Children’s, Shriners, and
Rush Hospitals.

Active on social media, Art Helps Heal conducts fundraisers on
Facebook and everyone involved is infinitely grateful for the
generous support from friends, family, and fellow teachers. As
their online presence has expanded they’ve even seen an increase
in interest from total strangers located near and far.

In the short year and a half since its creation, Art Helps Heal
has seen tremendous growth and support, and they are continuously
working to expand their efforts, finding new and creative ways to
artistically inspire hospitalized teens all around the Chicago

To learn more about Art Helps Heal, please visit their website or Facebook page,
and feel free to reach out to Anne or the rest of their staff.

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