Vickie Marasco & Beth McKenna - Art Impact Project
Vickie Marasco & Beth McKenna
Art Impact Project
Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Chamber: What was your inspiration for starting Art Impact Project?
Vickie Marasco: I started the organization six years ago when my son was in high school and became caught up in drug addiction. After initial inpatient treatment, he completed six months of intensive outpatient programming, twelve hours per week. While attending family group sessions, I observed that many of the teens were reticent to speak and participate in sharing their experiences and emotions. After my son graduated out of the program, I felt compelled to help. I approached the facility and offered to provide supportive art projects during their group sessions to enhance their treatment process. Through this initial effort, I saw the adolescents immediately open up and positively respond to the concept.
Moving forward, I created Art Impact Project, a nonprofit organization to reach more people needing the benefits of this programming concept. The mission is to enhance emotional wellness through creative expression.
We partner with a variety of organizations such as behavioral and mental health facilities, schools, shelters, correctional facilities, and substance abuse recovery centers to enhance their wellness efforts.
LFLBC: What is one thing you want people to know about Art Impact Project?
VM: Our programming is led by informed and compassionate Art Advocates and we offer inventive, self-reflective art projects. We believe creativity enhances problem-solving skills, helping participants discover non-harmful ways of facing adversity.
LFLBC: What is your organization’s vision?
VM: We’re working to expand our services so we can help more people who need emotional wellness support.
LFLBC: How has the pandemic affected your organization?
VM: Our organization initially took time to reflect and to pivoted to create new programming, at home wellness art kits, and offer some virtual programming.
We started ‘The Impact Exchange Speaker Series’ last March to feature a speaker and topic every other month to help educate our Art Advocates and create community awareness and conversation.
Beth McKenna: In addition to our speaker series, we initiated a virtual community art project called Wellbeing Wednesday, providing an hour of art programming via Zoom – it is free and open to the public. We work together on an art project using items available around the home. It has been so well received, that we are continuing with it on the third Wednesday of each month.
LFLBC: How can members of the community help?
VM: We’re planning to ramp back up our in-person programming soon, and we’re going to need volunteers--art advocates to facilitate the programming as well as support staff to help us put together kits and assist with other collaborative projects.
We hope to have our fundraiser later this year--and people can always donate through our website!
LFLBC: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
BM: Now more than ever, people are in need of health and emotional wellness programs, we believe the pandemic has increased the need for our services.
VM: Everyone has been challenged during this time, so many issues have been compounded by the pandemic. Every demographic has been touched by mental health and emotional wellness issues.