Updated: Nov 4, 2020
On a chilly, dark Friday, a group of YP Impact volunteers gathered at Plymouth Housing in Belltown for a night of holiday cheer, crafts, and good company. Plymouth Housing serves individuals who may have failed in housing in the past, or who cannot access decent, affordable housing due to poverty, disabilities, or a previous criminal record.
Spread out over a long table was an array of glitter, stickers, card stock, markers, glue, spray paint and (to my surprise) nail polish to help us create holiday cards, decorate ornaments and cut out paper snowflakes for Plymouth Housing residents who otherwise cannot afford to spend on these items. It was a good reminder that enhancing the well-being of others is a way of giving back. These items were by no means critical to their survival but at a time of the year when it can feel very gloomy, these trinkets can go a long way. Another table near the kitchen was a table filled with cupcakes, cookies, juice and other goodies for the residents.
We had a card-making station at one end of the table and an ornament decorating station at the other. The supplies were generously provided by Artist & Craftsman Supply Seattle and Seattle ReCreative. My eye was drawn to the empty ornament balls that volunteers could paint over (once we figured out how to use the spray paint bottle that is…) and stuff with glittery pom-poms pipe cleaners and garland. It was an easy way to decorate for those of us who are more creatively challenged. Near-instant gratification. Some of us, however, were really ambitious with this premise and tried out a cool trick to get painted swirls on your ornament ball by dipping it in nail polish in water. It took a few tries to get it right (I think there was a group huddled around a YouTube video at one point) and the result was great.
Some Plymouth residents excitedly joined the event. One woman, in particular, wrote highly creative and pun-filled greeting cards with ease. We were so impressed with her work! It turns out that she, an older woman who has lived in Seattle for decades, fell in love with writing late in life. She felt that writing saved her when times were rough. She particularly enjoys poetry and even submitted her work to an online poetry website contest and won! These days, she tries to instill the joy of writing in others, and her passion was infectious. She was a little sad to see that few residents ultimately attended the event (there were a handful of residents in the common room area but only a few residents actively participated in the activity) but she emphasized how meaningful this event was.
The night ended with several large bags of decorations and greeting cards as well as a lot of the remaining craft supplies, which we donated to Plymouth. We hope that they enjoy the finished pieces and that it adds holiday cheer to the spaces they inhabit in Plymouth, be it their own apartments or communal spaces. At the very least, we had a great time hearing stories (and even dating advice!) from an unofficial writer-in-residence at Plymouth.