5 months ago · Leah Fogt · 0 comments
Summer 2019 was a very challenging time for the Greater Dayton, Ohio area, and a time that landed the community in the national news on multiple occasions. A Ku Klux Klan rally on May 25th brought a tangible sense of hate to our streets, followed by 14 tornadoes causing devastation across the area on the 27th, leaving many families without homes and many businesses destroyed. June brought more heartache as it became known that a former elementary school teacher in the area had sexually abused 28 first grade girls. Perhaps the most nationally visible tragedy of all came in August when a heavily armed shooter opened fire at a club in the popular Oregon District, killing 9 people, injuring 27, and forever changing the neighborhood and its businesses.
Don’t let this string of events lead you to believe that the Greater Dayton Area is weakened. In fact, we are coming together in the most beautiful ways! From food drives, to fund raisers, to community events, Dayton has come together in healing and in love. One unique example is the Greater Dayton Mugs of Hope program, spearheaded by Paintbrush Pottery of Springboro (owner Kelsey Richard) and Decoy Art Center of Beavercreek (owner Tabitha Guidone). Richard and Guidone envisioned an opportunity for Daytonians to come together to create painted mugs to be distributed across the area (along with prizes and gift cards) to encourage those in need and spread a message of love, hope, and healing. Guidone explains, “We wanted to provide that vessel to allow one person to reach another anonymously but sincerely.”
With the support of Mayco Colors (who provided supplies) and Cozy Melts Pottery (who donated kiln usage), as well as event host locations including Sugarcreek Parks, Star City Brewery, Broken & Beloved, Cornell Studio Supply, Grass Roots Enrichment, We Care Arts, and Front Street, Richard and Guidone were able to offer mug painting parties across the Miami Valley. Over the fall months, a total of 500 mugs will be handprinted by Daytonians wishing to spread a message of comfort, hope, and healing. Additionally, thanks to donors, a $5 registration fee/donation from participants will be funneled directly into the community, distributing over $2000 among local programs and charities. Recipient charities include Community Action Partnership, which offers relief to those affected by tornadoes in Greene and Montgomery Counties, BOGG Ministries, which works to reduce hunger in the area, Dayton Children’s Hospital, and the Dayton Foundation. Guidone observed, “Everyone has such a big heart, and [is] willing to give and never asked for anything in return. We have an amazing community filled with lovely people and business owners.”
The mugs were distributed in waves across the Dayton area, each filled with goodies, gift cards, prizes, and bearing a message of community and hope. Some of the messages, carefully chosen and painted on the mugs include: “Dayton Strong”, “We are united”, “You are loved”, “You are worthy”, and “Dayton Proud.” Each painter was encouraged to express the message they most wanted to share with another Daytonian who might be hurting, so painters were able to experience some healing themselves as they freely expressed themselves artistically and contributed to Good in the community.
Kelsey Richard, owner of Paintbrush Pottery, observes that she and her co-planner were inspired by the response of businesses, painters, and mug recipients. “I am truly humbled by the amount of people that got involved. We have awesome communities that make up the Greater Dayton region. 2019 has proved we are Dayton Strong. Dayton is a great city. The people in Dayton are incredible for coming together and proving that we are a city of love, strength, and hope!”
I personally was very excited to participate in Mugs of Hope as a painter, thanks to the invitation and suggestion of my dear friend Liz, who knows I was deeply saddened by the series of community traumas Dayton endured in Summer 2019. A fellow creative and a positive soul, Liz was the perfect painting buddy! We painted our mugs in September, and it was a very therapeutic experience. The opportunity to express our feelings artistically and participate in community healing in some small way had a powerful impact on us both. We met some other great Daytonians and enjoyed seeing the artwork and messages others wanted to share. I believe both Liz and I left the event feeling more hopeful and connected.
To the individual who received the mug I painted, I pray it brings you some sunshine (I painted a sun) and a smile. When you sip from your mug, know that I was thinking of you when I painted it, whoever you are. May it stir in you positive energy, resilience, and of course hope!