Reams of paper, pots of paint and box after box of other art supplies poured into the Maslow Project after an article in the Mail Tribune told how the program could help homeless youths turn their pain into positive action.

Reams of paper, pots of paint and box after box of other art supplies poured into the Maslow Project after an article in the Mail Tribune told how the program could help homeless youths turn their pain into positive action.

So far, about $5,000 worth of in-kind and cash donations have come from community members eager to help the nonprofit agency create an art program designed to provide troubled youths with healthy and productive ways to express their inner turmoil, said Lacey Renae, mental health/art therapist.

"It's been so amazing," Renae said.

Renae said homeless youths often have experienced domestic violence, abuse and economic challenges. Consequently, they struggle with anxiety and depression. A creative outlet can help stem dangerous behavior and build self-esteem, co ping skills, self-understanding and personal growth, she said.

"The art program helps support Maslow's mission overall, which is to offer every homeless child and youth the probability of success and the opportunity for a better life," Renae said.

More than 1,400 young people visited Maslow last year. The nonprofit resource center assists homeless and at-risk youths up to age 21. Maslow's move in August to 500 Monroe St. has allowed creation of an art studio. And a $20,000 grant from Pacific Source Charitable Foundation allowed Maslow to hire Renae.

Construction on studio and office spaces for the art therapy program will begin in a few weeks, said Fred Jenkins.

Jenkins, a retired executive with a construction background and a keen interest in art, volunteered to spearhead creation of the new space. Expected to be about 625 square feet, the studio will include a large activities area, an office for Renee and ample storage space for supplies, he said.

Jenkins, a printmaker by avocation, recently completed a 24-by-32-foot art studio at his home in Trail. Jenkins said he is looking forward to helping Maslow realize its goal of an art therapy program, not only because of the artistic or therapeutic benefits, but because it can help Maslow youths with their career goals.

Corporations are increasingly looking for employees who are "right-brained," Jenkins said, adding that side of the brain is generally believed to be responsible for artistic endeavors and creative thinking.

"People who are right-brained are more oriented to problem-solving," Jenkins said, adding fostering a creative mind-set can lead to "success and self-sufficiency."

Renae hopes to create change in the lives of Maslow youths through the art-based support groups and individual counseling. The multipurpose art room will offer art education classes taught by local artists, and eventually dance and music classes, she said.

Renae also would like to change the public's perception once the art is created and available for viewing or for sale, she said.

"I want to have local professional artists team with youth artists so they can do art shows together," Renae said. "That's a dream of mine."

The dream looks like it could well become a reality. The outpouring of donations since the November story ran has been "overwhelming," Renae said.

More than $3,500 worth of art and craft supplies and books, as well as shelving and storage bins, have been donated by project supporters who also gave more than $1,300 in cash donations, Renae said, adding that Ashland Artworks has been a key donor. There also are several grant opportunities pending, she said.

Jenkins has been impressed with Maslow staff and their respectful attitude towards their clients as they help them grow towards "success and self-sufficiency," he said.

"I like the way people are greeted and treated here. It's not a place where people have to walk in and feel like they're helpless," Jenkins said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.