Stories of Transformation

Stories of Transformation

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Hope Center for the Arts is a project of the Hi Hopes Identity Discovery Foundation, Inc., a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization

Julio Galarza
Julio GalarzaHOPE Artist

Julio Galarza

Julio has only been with us since December of 2015, but his contribution to the program and in turn the impact our program has had on Julio have been truly transformational, for all of us.  When Julio toured the program he was looking for a program that would help him get his “work out there.”  Like any artist his dream is to share his work.  He had an extensive body of work already (graphite drawings), detailed portraits of actresses from what he calls the “Golden Age of Hollywood” (Bette Davis being his subject of choice) as well as scenes from classic films.  His work is amazing.  His rendering ability borders on savant level, he methodically applies his patterns and marks in the lights and darks of his subject without a single misstep.  There is no sketching beforehand and no erasing during.

What he found at HOPE was a home, a tribe of fellow artists (staff and students alike) who understand his personal struggles and champion his work.  Julio asks the Director of Visual Arts, almost daily about opportunities to show his work, he is a fierce and persistent advocate for his own work.  Because of his persistence he was given his own studio space, something he has never had before, not even at home.  It took him several weeks before he really started to live into the space.  He asked his teacher if he could hang some work in his studio space, to which she replied “of course, it is your space, you can do anything you want with it.”  With a studio space he has been given a new platform from which to discuss his work and the sense of accomplishment, ownership and pride that comes along with that.  Staff love to tour visitors through Julio’s studio and he loves it too.  He relishes the opportunity to talk about his work.  Julio is gaining a wealth of practical professional experiences, learning to title his pieces, write an artist statement and gain exposure through exhibiting his work.  Julio’s instructors at HOPE all have their MFA’s and are practicing visual artists themselves.  Staff is exposing Julio and his work to arts professionals like Paige Wery the owner of The Good Luck Gallery in Los Angeles which specializes in Outsider Art.  The opportunities for Julio are endless and have only just begun.

Julio also serves as an inspiration to his fellow artists/students who marvel at his work.  Some of them say “oh, I can’t draw” to which staff quickly replies, “anyone can draw and we’ll show you how!”  Julio is a delight both as an artist and a human being, and at HOPE he has found acceptance both artistically and personally.  He has found so many outlets for expression, including dance and drama as well as socially, finding friendship along the way.  And at HOPE he laughs, he laughs a lot because he can be himself, quirky and silly and oh so talented.

Emma Phillips
Emma PhillipsHOPE Artist

Emma Phillips

Emma is a bright, beautiful and loving young lady. She joined HOPE Center for the Arts in 2015. She had a difficult beginning, so to see her now, you would say she is a miracle. Emma was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 1996; prior to her diagnosis she was in Regional Center’s early intervention program. As a baby she had numerous sensory difficulties; light, sound, transitioning from day to day activities caused her stress, crying, and had her retreating from the world. She started a speech and development school at age one. Emma was a little girl with limited means of communication, so her behaviors were those of fear, combativeness and self-injury. At age four, the world began to change for us. She started working with the Picture Exchange Communication system. With training and the diligence of all those who loved and cared for her, she began to speak. When Emma turned 5, she began using words, her picture exchange cards and hand gestures to get her points across. By that time, she had grown leaps and bounds and was at a two and half year old’s level of communication. At age eleven, Emma had grown tremendously, she was at a six-year old level of communication, her combative behaviors faded away, and there was no stopping her thirst for knowledge.
Emma has always loved art, history and being creative. From her grade school years though high school we encouraged Emma’s love of art at home. She had some exposure to the fine arts in school, but it was never enough. She would study “how-to books” and draw characters in her room. She was fascinated by different cultures and researched them on her own. Emma loved music, and we bought her instruments to play with despite never having formal training. As a family, we did all we could to encourage her creativity and love of history.
Upon Emma’s graduation from her adult transition high school, we started to look for a day program option. We saw HOPE early on in our search and always kept it in mind. We decided to try out HOPE, and were thrilled beyond belief when she was accepted. It was the beginning of a whole new world for her and we are so blessed to have discovered it.
In addition to Autism Spectrum Disorder, Emma has Anxiety Disorder. Beginning a new school and meeting new friends was overwhelming for her at first. The staff, educators, and therapists were always attentive to her needs and made the transition to HOPE a great experience for her. Shy and reluctant at first, Emma has become a member of a extraordinary community of artists and musicians. She has access to a large range of classes that we would never be able provide for her privately. She draws, paints, and works with textiles now. She sings aloud, and participates in group projects, and is in music classes. Her favorites classes are poetry, art, horticulture, ensemble and sewing. The classes rotate so she is always learning new skills. Another benefit of being a member of HOPE Center for the Arts are the friends she has made. Emma says, ” There are all kinds of different characters and personalities, and they are the ones that accepted me first. I was really shy and nervous at first, and I was very overwhelmed with all the people around me. Each and every class I was introduced to everyone. They were so interested in me and accepted me, so I slowly broke out of my shell. I am very happy at HOPE and I wouldn’t trade it for any other school or program for the world.”
– Christina Phillips, Parent of Emma Phillips, HOPE Artist

Bradley Clayman
Bradley ClaymanHOPE Artist

Bradley Clayman

Bradley was born in 1987 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a precocious child, singing his a,b c’s, speaking in sentences and doing puzzles at 18 months. Then, at 22 months, the ‘wheels fell off the bus’ and he started losing all his language and social interactions. We thought he had lost his hearing as he had suffered chronic ear infections as an infant. After many tests and scans, the diagnosis of Autism was finally made many months later. It was a confusing time. The current treatments were not widely known and the regression he exhibited, now a common subset of Autism, confused many physicians.

We were fortunate to live in a community that was very accepting and Bradley was included at school and in early social groups. He, of course, needed support and guidance to learn. Through the patience and persistence of many working with him, he has learned to read and communicate at a basic level and loves being with groups of people. Others seem to respond positively to him as well as he is totally non-judgmental and readily greets all with a smile.

We moved to California in 2002. After finishing High School here, he started attending Hope three days a week. The other two days, he worked as part of a group at the Yard House. Hope Center for the Arts has been a wonderful gift to Bradley. He rides the ACCESS bus to and from Hope giving him a feeling of independence. He readily tells us the names of friends and teachers at Hope. Although not at the savant level of skills, he began doing some painting when away at a summer camp and has been able to continue to develop his use of color under the direction of the Hope instructors. The instructors at Hope also encouraged an artistic collaboration with one of his friends at Hope that resulted in the creation of a few paintings together. One of them hangs in his room in our home and another in his room at Glennwood, where he now lives. He seems proud of his work. Recently, ceramics was added to the Hope offerings and he has begun experimenting with clay. This is particularly exciting since many with Autism have sensory issues that preclude working with clay. In expanding his sensory experience, he also participates in Horticulture which involves planting seeds in dirt. The instructors at Hope have been exceptional in encouraging him out his comfortable routine to try new things.

Hope has also opened his life to music; both as a vehicle for interacting with others during music therapy and as a skill. He has been learning to play the drums and proudly tells us about it. Everyday presents new opportunities for growth.

At Hope Center for the Arts, he knows he is valued, loved and surrounded by friends. Who could ask for more?!

Lauren Kelly
Lauren KellyHOPE Artist

Lauren Kelly

We started out looking for a place for Lauren to grow and expand her love for music, especially in the area of singing. When we first met with the staff at Hope my daughter Jessica and Lauren were blown away with the attentiveness of the staff and the ambiance of love that surrounded the atmosphere at Hope. Jessica informed me that Lauren squeezed her hand and said,” this is the place I want to be a part of.”

So began our relationship at Hope. Hope has impacted our lives in such a positive way. Lauren is very happy with her relationship and tenure at Hope. Hope has opened new horizons and for Lauren and they continue to develop her love for singing. Lauren is gifted when it comes to singing. You can hear it in her voice, see it in the way she delivers a song, and most of all, people can feel the love that Lauren exudes when she sings.

Thank you Hope for opening up a world of opportunity to Lauren, a joy of being a part of an organization that cares, and an atmosphere to learn. The Kelly family is proud to be a part of Hope Center for the Arts.

– Leonard Kelly, Parent of Lauren Kelly, HOPE Artist

Ron Langloe
Ron LangloeHi Hopes Performer

Ron Langloe

Ron was born in Ketchikan, Alaska in 1952 with congenital heart disease, hypotesia of the left side of his face, blindness in his left eye and loss of hearing in his left ear. The left side of his face was not present upon birth and had to be constructed through several surgeries. Since the medical facilities in Ketchikan were scarce, his parents were advised to take him to Portland, Oregon.  For the first 10 years of his life, he remained in the hospital, having over 100 surgeries. While in the hospital, Ron likes to tell the story of how he played drums on the hospital bed rails. His parents were told that he probably would not survive because of his condition. The trip from Alaska to Oregon was very difficult and after two visits, his birth parents no longer felt that they could make the trip; they did not expect Ron to survive and chose not return to see him. After 100 surgeries, the doctors decided they had done everything that they could and Ron was released to a foster family in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The family had children of their own and one young daughter was taking piano lessons who practiced at home daily. When she practiced, Ron would stand, listen, and shiver with excitement. He asked if he could play, but they initially said “No” because that the piano was not a toy; it was an expensive musical piece of furniture and he could not touch it. One day, a few months later, when she was practicing, Ron was fidgeting, shivering and pulling his hair and soon ran over to her, carefully slid her off the piano bench, sat down and began to play. His foster mother was dumbfounded and asked him where he learned to play. He said, “I taught myself. I listen and then I play”. Ron has taught himself to play numerous instruments, all by ear.

In 1981 Ron saw the Hi Hopes playing at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, and knew that he wanted to be a part of the group. He contacted Doris Walker, the director of the Hi Hopes, upon his family’s return to their home in Grants Pass and asked if he could join the group. It took six years to convince her, make the arrangements for housing and the foster parents to agree to move him from Oregon to Anaheim, CA. In 1987 Ron moved to Anaheim to become part of the Hi Hopes and his long sought-after dream came true. He lives to play music and Hope Center for the Arts is fortunate to give him this opportunity.

Howard Miller
Howard MillerHi Hopes Musician

Howard Miller

Howard was born in Whittier, California in 1962 as the first born child and grandchild. He showed signs of elevated physical and mental abilities. But at the age of 3 ½, he was hit by a car and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Even in the years following the subsequent brain surgery and recovery, he continued to display evidence of high intelligence. However, due to the nature of his brain injury, he had difficulties with traditional learning. Special education was just becoming a reality in the public school system, so when he entered school, and following evaluations, he was placed in the Educationally Handicapped classes.

Howard, comes from a family with a history of musical and artistic talent. Because of his particular injury, his brain switched from left to right dominance and this allowed both his artistic and musical talents to develop. At the age of 7, he began classes at Yamaha School of Music, where he learned the basics in music over the period of a year. Private piano music lessons followed him until the age of 17. At his final recital he played Franz List’s, Piano Concerto #1, 2nd Movement, accompanied by his teacher playing the orchestration on the Organ. Students were required to memorize their music, except in performances where they were accompanied by another individual. However, Howard had memorized the score, and when the instructor made a mistake, both she and Howard stopped, she referred him to a place in the score to begin again, and he did so. When the pair finished and took their bows, she was pleasantly shocked to find that Howard had played the whole piece, stops and everything, without the printed music.

In the years following high school, he received services from a variety of agencies, mainly attempting to place him in the work force. He became aware of Hope Center for the Arts through a friend, but chose not to pursue his music, rather to continue to be placed in a supported work environment.

Through Regional Center of Orange County, he was again referred to Hope Center for the Arts in 2005. Howard had always wanted to be part of a band (KISS being his first choice), and found that he would be considered for HOPE’s performing group, Hi Hopes. He began attending Hope Center for the Arts adult day program and subsequently became an important member of Hi Hopes.

Howard has made extraordinary progress in many areas of his development since joining Hope Center for the Arts. He is proud to be a member of Hi Hopes and considers this his job with responsibilities and benefits. He also performs with HOPE’s Ring & Sing (handbells and vocal choir combined), and has excelled in acting with the drama troupe. Howard has a wealth of knowledge on many subjects, mainly movies, music, and history. His social progress includes having friends at the program, an awareness and acceptance of both their abilities and disabilities and spending time with his girlfriend both at Hope Center for the Arts, on the phone, and on dates.

As Howard’s parents, we are amazed and pleased with the wonderful artistic, social and cognitive progress Howard has made since attending Hope Center for the Arts. It is such a blessing for us to now hear words of praise about our son. We are so appreciative of the program and the very dedicated and special staff at Hope Center for the Arts.

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