“Hope through Heartsongs” is a partnership between Americus Arts and the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. After learning about Mattie’s poetry and messages of hope and peace for our world, Americus Arts member Brooks Nettum was drawn to Mattie’s writings about Heartsongs. She met with Laura Bauer, Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, and brainstormed ideas around having area teens create individualized “I am” statements to reinforce the concept of purpose, our “reason for being”, and share these with others by painting their “I am” statements on tiles that will become a traveling mosaic displayed at area schools, libraries, and churches throughout the community.
Americus Arts collaborated with LaToya Ross of the Southwest Georgia Children’s Alliance to identify teens to participate in the “Hope through Heartsongs” workshop. Other area supporters attending were Americus Arts Board Member and Sumter County High School teacher Letitia Williams, and Truancy Director for Juvenile Court Stephen Woodson. CEO and Chief Peace Officer of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation, Jeni Stepanek, brought a powerful message of hope and purpose to the teens, encouraging them to explore ways to seek, make, and bring peace to themselves, their families, their friends, and their community. Joining Jeni and Laura from the Foundation were Board Members Barry McConatha and Marc Birnbach. Brooks Nettum, Phyllis Smith and Geri Nelson assisted the teens with the art portion of the workshop. The mosaic created was debuted at the Americus Arts Gallery in Downtown Americus during First Friday events on March 6.