An artistic eye and new vision of life

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) -  Stephanie Vasso is a designer by trade, but every Tuesday at 1:30, you can find her hanging with her boys inside the East Texas Rescue Mission of Tyler. The ArtReach Program is Vasso's latest project.

Vasso said the idea came to her after completing a test to discover her spiritual gifts.  "I completed this long survey, then I added up what my gifts were, and creative expression came up, along with craftsmanship, mercy," she said.

Nine weeks ago, ArtReach was born.

Each week, Vasso and a group of volunteers with Marvin Methodist Church meet with a group of men inside the rescue mission.  The men participate in the mission's Bridge Program, but for about an hour and a half each Tuesday, the main hall of the rescue mission is transformed into an art studio--painting and sculpting take center stage.

"We may have a Michelangelo here and don't know it," said Rev. Tony Chung, director of the East Texas Rescue Mission.  Chung said ArtReach provides a way for his residents to express what's really going on inside of them.  "Colors have a way of transcending problems," he said.

"Just the idea of having my signature on something that I's a great feeling," said Fred Thomas.  Thomas first came to the rescue mission five months ago.  He jumped at the opportunity to join the ArtReach program.

"It brings some structure into our lives," he said.

Mitchell Spencer called the program a good getaway.  "You get to sit down and have fun," he said.  "I never thought I'd be able to do anything that creative."

"I came into this thinking that I was going to be doing something that was helping them," said Vasso.  "The funny thing is that God's showed me that they've really helped me."

Vasso hopes to sell the art work to help fund the rescue mission's programs and services.

The work will be on display, for sale, during the city of Tyler's first Downtown ArtWalk.  It begins Friday Dec. 4th at 4 p.m.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.