Volunteer Spotlight: Karen

“The process is more important than the end product.” Karen stated, just as she used tell her art students. This is true not only when creating art, but with any life endeavor. Karen describes herself as both a teacher and student, and discovers life’s lessons through the process. She was once a student at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and also went on to be an art teacher for many years. She is a lover of life and determined to continuously learn and create. Six years ago, Karen suffered a stroke which left her, hopefully temporarily, with a brain injury and aphasia. It has been a long process trying to get back to where she once was, and describes it as being a student again, learning new ways to approach life. Now, she can be seen walking with her walker around the city of Portland, where she serves as a volunteer for the Friends of Congress Square Park, as well as the Portland Disability Advisory Council. She feels she has many gifts, and that volunteering allows her to share them with everyone.

Karen moved to Portland about two years ago, having previously lived in Scarborough and Falmouth. For ten years she volunteered at the Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport where she took care of all of the gardens. Now at the park, she loves to feel the soil, and is a tremendous help in keeping the plants in the park looking pretty and full of life. The park is right outside Karen’s door, and she is a committed and charismatic volunteer. She feels that the Friends of Congress Square, and the people of Portland, are so patient and welcoming, and she loves that she now has the opportunity to give back.

After her years at the Trolley Museum, Karen decided to stop and focus more on her art work. She loves all form of creativity and expression, whether it’s painting, printmaking, or beating on her bongo drums. She continues to teach and learn art, and enjoys making cards. At the park she has helped paint the furniture, giving the space some pops of color. Karen herself is colorful and loves being around the people in the square, socializing and sharing experiences. The park gives her a place to continue to pursue her passions and meet new people. She is excited for the summer and wants to be doing more relaxing and creating, while staying busy by volunteering in the park.

By Angela Mallis, FoCSP summer intern

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