Giving Gifts — Tis the Season, All Year Round — Dayton’s Project Timothy

Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA
Project Timothy is located within the St Vincent de Paul building in Dayton, WA

Christmas is the season for giving.

It sounds like a Facebook meme, or the inside of a holiday card, and like most pithy sayings, merely brushes the surface of truth.

In reality, people in need — who truly appreciate a timely gift, given — are around all year. Thankfully for those struggling in Columbia County and Waitsburg, there is Project Timothy, an ecumenical ministry spearheaded by the St Joseph (Dayton) and St Mark (Waitsburg) Catholic parishes, but joined by a number of other churches in the area. It provides emergency housing, rental assistance, help with utilities, food vouchers, bus passes, and more for the nearly 700 families that seek its aid every year.

Project Timothy looks to Christ's example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein
Project Timothy looks to Christ’s example as the one to follow. Jesus and the Little Children by Vogel von Volgelstein

“Project Timothy is unique to Dayton,” says Terri Schlachter, president of the 13-member board of the organization. Opening its doors in 1990,. Project Timothy grew out of the energy and vision of Father Paul Wood, who came to the area from the Brooklyn, New York, Diocese, and was struck by the need to collate the benevolent efforts of the Christian community into one place.

“It’s always been meant to be an ecumenical ministry,” Schlachter says. “It’s not just the Catholic Church; it’s the entire community helping.”

Working in cooperation with religious, private, and public agencies, Project Timothy runs from a designated office space in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store on Main Street. Volunteers staff the office from noon to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and off hours, clients can reach an on-call volunteer by going through the Sheriff’s Department.

Operating with funds donated by individuals, private groups, Catholic Charities of Spokane, and grants, Project Timothy strives to be a physical interpretation of the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, a young Greek Christian who eventually became a bishop of Ephesus in the first century, A.D.:

“Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, and to be generous and ready to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18)

We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde
We are called to look out for the most vulnerable in society. Suffer the Little Children by Fritz von Uhde

“Project Timothy works very hard to be good stewards of the money entrusted to us by our donors and grants to help those in need,” Schlachter says. There’s only so much to go around, the need is great, and it is a delicate balance ensuring that the funds go where they are most and truly needed, while every person who enters the office leaves with their dignity intact.

Volunteers, who undergo 20 hours of training in interviewing clients and familiarizing themselves with the bylaws of the organization, must be discerning and kind, wise and compassionate, able to make intelligent judgments without being judgmental. On the wall is a list of phone numbers of various agencies, resources, and organizations in the area, and before any client leaves, volunteers review additional options available for assistance and referral.

Putting into practice the things we read is a focal point of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson
Putting into practice the things we read, and meeting the needs of the vulnerable, are focal points of Project Timothy. Seaside Story by Wenaha Gallery artist Steve Henderson

As with most giving organizations, Project Timothy finds itself most in demand in the winter months, when higher heating and electrical bills command more of a family’s budget. December’s activities center around Christmas baskets, some 85 boxes which include foods for a holiday dinner such as a ham, vegetables, potatoes, pie, rolls, and canned foods.

“If we have enough donations, we will include Dayton Dollars so families can buy a little something for their children for Christmas,” Schlachter says, adding that vouchers provided for food, clothing, and other essentials stay in the area, benefiting local businesses.

On the opposite side of the calendar, the month of June finds the organization with a request to fund a very specific purpose:

“We have had donations in the summer with the specific request that they go to swim passes.

“This has been a great asset for families as the price for swim passes has gone up. It (swimming) is a great activity for children, but expensive for some families.”

It quickly becomes obvious that Christmas is not the only time of the year for gifts, and quite fortunately, Schlachter observes, the people in the area are conversant with this. The gift of giving runs both ways.

“It is very clearly the Lord’s work, for after 25 years, Project Timothy is still going, even though there have been some real economic down turns in the American Economy.

“Dayton has some very kindhearted people.

“To help someone you know is really in need, it feels great.”

Wenaha GalleryLocated one block away from the Project Timothy office, Wenaha Gallery devotes every January to a food drive supporting the community food bank, one of the organizations to which Project Timothy refers. Each year, people from within and without the community donate hundreds of pounds of food to the effort.

Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional customized framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton, WA.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.

 

Sometimes, Good Art Makes People Cry — the Paintings of Michele Davis

Playtime Noah's Ark oil painting by Michele Davis
Playtime Noah’s Ark by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

For an artist, bringing a viewer to tears is a triumph indeed, and painter Michele Davis, of Spokane, WA, has experienced the exultation of this moment more than once:

“When someone sees my art and is touched to the point of tears, then I know it has hit the mark,” Davis, who focuses on figurative oil paintings of children and religious themes, says. “When that happens, there is something more at work than just some paint on canvas, and I find myself in awe — like I am standing on holy ground. That part has nothing to do with me.”

Her most memorable emotion-gendering moment, however, was a bit different from an exultant one:

“When my first child was born, we decided that I would stay at home with our children,” Davis remembers. “At first I set up a table in the dining room to paint watercolors.

A Future and a Hope original oil painting of Jesus and child by Michele Davis
A Future and a Hope by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

“This worked for awhile, but after a year or two of this, it became evident that I needed to give more attention to our kids.

“After my little girl burst into tears one day as soon as she saw me heading to my art table, I decided I needed to give it a break.”

So, while the five kids were young, Davis packed away the boxes of art materials and focused on other matters, but she never abandoned art. A voracious reader, she absorbed instruction through books, DVDs, and interaction with others, so that by the time the children were older and less inclined to meltdown at the sight of brushes and canvas, Davis was ready — with a far different, and greatly matured concept of how, and what, she wanted to paint.

Landscapes and still lifes, the subjects upon which she had focused when her art studio was the dining room table, were still enjoyable, but Davis yearned to learn the human figure, a desire that went back many years to when she was in high school, filling stacks of sketchbooks with whatever she was into at the time.

“As a teenager, I wrote this plea in my diary: ‘I want to learn to draw faces, but no one will teach me!’

“So much for drama . . .”

But she did begin to learn. Through books and DVDs an adult Davis mentored under artists like Morgan Weistling, Mian Situ, and Richard Schmid, with the most dramatic learning curve manifesting itself as she participated in a live-model drawing group hosted by wildlife artist Terry Lee.

“There’s no substitute for something like this,” Davis says.

Hope, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.
Hope, by Wenaha Gallery guest artist Michele Davis.

“Recently, my focus on subject matter has clarified, and I have devoted my hands and heart to painting Biblically-inspired images,” Davis says.

“I believe there is a great need for accomplished artists in this field.  The Harry Anderson images of Jesus that I grew up with made a huge impact on the way I viewed God.

“What a high calling for artists! What a responsibility!

“I do not take this calling lightly, and make every attempt to approach my easel with a humble and teachable spirit. Prayer before paintbrush.”

Davis’s figurative works, which celebrate simplicity, light, and the innocence of children, focus on the pleasurable work of being a child: playing with toys, climbing a tree, gathering flowers, One of them, “Playtime Noah’s Ark,” is soon to be released as a SunsOut jigsaw puzzle, through Davis’s licensing agency, The Ansada Group of Sarasota, FL.

Another project — a painting of Christ in a modern-day setting with several high school students — is literally the most sizable project she has ever embarked upon, and at 10 by 5 and a half feet, it’s a bit too big for her upstairs loft studio.

“The only wall it will fit on is in our bedroom. So my husband is patiently putting up with it for the weeks/months that I will be working on it.” Upon completion, the painting will be displayed in a private Christian high school.

“My artwork resides in homes around the country, hospitals, schools, and churches,” Davis says.

“Whether I paint Christ in a modern-day setting, or a child just being a kid, or a quiet still life, I hope it pulls the viewer up, helps them remember the good in life, and see that there is undoubtedly still much beauty to be found in the world.”

And if recognizing that beauty brings tears to a viewer’s eyes, so much the better.

Wenaha GalleryMichele Davis is the Art Event: Pacific Northwest Artist at Wenaha Gallery from October 20 through November 15, 2014. View Davis’s works at the gallery in historic downtown Dayton, WA, 219 East Main.

Contact the gallery by phone at 800.755.2124 or e-mail art@wenaha.com. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.

Wenaha Gallery,  located in historic downtown Dayton, Washington,  is your destination location for Greenwich Workshop Fine Art Prints, professional framing, and original fine art paintings and sculpture by notable Pacific Northwest artists.   Books, gifts, note cards, jigsaw puzzles, and more are also available. Visit at 219 East Main, Dayton; phone 509.382.2124; e-mail art@wenaha.com.

This article was written by Carolyn Henderson.