‘Journey to Healing:’ Annual art show fundraiser benefits grieving youth

RICHLAND, Wash — May is Mental Health Awareness Month but from May 2nd to May 8th it’s Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, something that Cork’s Place with Chaplaincy Health is trying to spotlight.

“At Cork’s Place, peer support and expert guidance from staff and specially trained volunteers help families navigate through difficult emotions after a death. For many it is a life changing and healing journey” said Brandy Hickey, the program manager for Cork’s Place.

Their fifth annual Heart of Healing art show kicked off Thursday evening at 3 Eyed Fish in Richland. This year’s theme is “Journey to Healing” which is something that 17-year-old Rosana Gutierrez is no stranger to.

When she was only 10 years old, her father passed. To help cope, Rosana and her three younger brothers joined Cork’s Place where they were able to tap into their creative side to express grief.

“My dad was the funny guy, party animal, and the one that always made people laugh,” Gutierrez said. “He was my best friend so it really hit me hard when he died.”

After years in the program, Gutierrez said she uses art as a form of therapy.

“When I paint I’m just thinking about how I feel and I’m trying to put that on paper because it can be really hard to keep all of the emotions inside,” Gutierrez said. “I just want to get it out into a physical form.”

One of the featured pieces in the show is her Picasso-style painting that Gutierrez said represents the difficult feelings one experiences while grieving.

“I think that sometimes your mental health can kind of leak through so the part that I kept to myself, I tried to envision gross colors because inside it can be very difficult to handle and digest,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said that her years in the program talking with kids and adults who understood what she was going through helped break down some of the stigmas surrounding death, grieving and mental health.

“It’s really important that adults listen and hear what we need to say,” Gutierrez said. “A lot of the stigmas come from older people but kids grieve too.”

Hickey she was “proud” of Gutierrez and her family.

“To watch how she’s a seasoned griever who can deal with the hardest things, be open about her struggles, be vulnerable and share her story with others is such a beautiful and healing thing for not only her but others,” Hickey said.

All of the grieving programs and services at Cork’s Place are free of charge. 100% of the proceeds raised from the fundraiser will go toward providing care for those in need.

“When a child can say and express themselves in their own voice and in their own words, it’s incredibly cathartic for them,” Hickey said. “It gives them back a little bit of control that they don’t have, so by sharing their experience whether it’s good, bad, beautiful, or messy, it’s healing to them.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fundraiser is also online until May 21st.

To donate to their $60,000 dollar goal or see the available artwork, click here.