The Light – P4Y Poetry

There is a new youth who has been coming to art group recently.

I met him on outreach a few years ago and I discovered that from a young age he has been dealing with addiction and homelessness. Despite this, he possesses a great sense of humour, a strong connection to spirituality and to the world around him, and a deep rooted inner strength.

A few weeks ago he was in the music room writing on the chalk board.

This is what he wrote:

Madness looms overhead
Like and eagle searching for prey
Slow as a turtle, sure as death
The path from darkness
is long and painful
twisting and turning to
it’s hearts content.



Ottawa Home and Garden Show. Why?

OIM has been given a booth at the Ottawa Home and Garden Show, March 20 to 23 at the Ernst and Young Centre.  Why?

A friend of the ministry donated this 10’ x 20’ exhibitor’s space so that people who are thinking about renovating, redoing and re-fixing their own homes might take a moment and consider people who don’t have any home at all.

Our booth will have an area where visitors can see some of the art work that our Passion 4 Youth artists have created; we will be showing the 7 minute OIM DVD and also another shorter DVD featuring interviews from three of the youth from the program; we will have a visual aid of a home (on Bristol board) where visitors can buy a brick for a donation of any amount, and we can collect funds for new space (which we desperately need).

Then we’ll top it off with not one, but two (and maybe three) surprises that you can only discover if you come by and have a visit with us.

The Ottawa Home and Garden people are expecting over 20,000 visitors to the show this year, and it is a privilege to represent OIM there.  We have scheduled volunteers and staff for the entire weekend, and you will want to see how this works!

Please consider this your special invitation: ‘Come on down’ and visit us!

A Special heARTfelt Thursday: Sneak Peek!

P4Y Art Show Collage 2013-11-191

Texture, colour, pattern, meaning…

OIM is excited to extend an invitation to friends and community members for the up-coming Passion 4 Youth art show.

The Passion 4 Youth artists have been hard at work this Fall to create pieces that explore the idea of violence and social structures. Each artist has created an art piece that represents a major structure in our city that has had a positive or negative influence on their lives. From the perspective of a street-engaged youth, we will be looking at the Children’s Aid Society, the criminal justice system, financial institutions, immigration, the media, health facilities, and many more.

We encourage you to come out. Doors will be open 7:00pm-9:00pm, and there will be a suggested $5 donation at the door. Light refreshments provided.

Tabaret Hall, Room 112, uOttawa–550 Cumberland St. 

heARTfelt Thursdays: Male Figure in Blue

Painting - Acrylic - Male Figure Blue


Claudia grew up in a home with drugs and conflict, prompting her to leave at the age of 17. Claudia ended-up on the streets and using drugs. She joined the P4Y program two years ago and has been a committed member ever since.

Though she had done art prior to joining the art group she had never made space in her life to engage with art as she does today. She is often seen leaving covered in paint, having created some wild and meaningful abstract piece.

This piece of work represents a man in her life who has made a significant impact. It is the first piece in a series she is completing.

heARTfelt Thursdays: Nothing to See Here

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” ― John Steinbeck


The wonderful thing about art is that it fills our lives with light, creativity, symbolism and, most importantly, it asks us to stop what we are doing and reflect. Pieces of ‘art’, these wonderful glimpses of light in the darkness, are not made simply. If you watched the thoughtful brushstrokes at work in the art room you would know that the paintings that seem to carry the most meaning are the ones most carefully loved.

Today we have no art to show you on the P4Y blog because we have no art ready to show! Now, that may surprise you, seeing as the art room is always a hive of activity. But, as one of the individuals who photographs the art work I respect that sometimes things aren’t quite ready for an audience. Out youth have been hard at work over the past few weeks and it is exciting to see so many of them in the midst of exploring their creativity.

But don’t worry! I assure you next week we will have some new for you to admire, and a little story about the youth who struck a match in the darkness.

heARTfelt Thursdays: A Portrait of a Man

 Drawing - Street Outreach
A new volunteer, Sara, with OIM did this drawing recently. It was her first time on Street Outreach, and she was worried she would be nervous. Street Outreach can be unsettling at first, with all the anxieties and expectations swirling inside of you.

Her first stop was to see Clark, who is pictured above. He was sitting outside a store, soggy from the rain. He was happy to see the bright red vest coming.

Sara crouched right next to him–no hesitation–and they talked like old friends. She was kind and gentle with Clark; she listened to him attentively.

The following week Sara showed me this portrait she had drawn of him. It really looks like him, a man seen with eyes of love instead of prejudice. I believe Sara has a gift, the ability to see people the way God sees them: wonderful and loved.

OIM is so thankful for the kind of volunteers we have, like Sara so many of our volunteers see our street-friends as people–valued and loved, wonderfully made. By taking the time to get to know each street-friend Sara was able to see those wonderful parts of them, and look past the soggy street clothes and guarded posture.

I hope when people look at Sara’s portrait they will see Clark as she does, both in this drawing and on the street.


OIM Staff

heARTfelt Thursdays: Nursery Drawings

“Every artist was first an amateur.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Arylic - Elephant

Laura is a very quiet and intensely  shy person. She has recently started to come out of her shell more, but it is (and always has been) a struggle to connect with her. Her insular character means she responds bashfully to any compliment and will often undermine it. “I’m not that good.” “I traced it….” “I’m not an artist.”

Laura works with intense focus and develops beautiful little details in her work. Though she might not consider herself artistic she produces vibrant works with a child-like cheerfulness to them. She has a child, and you can see ask she works that she is creating pieces for them. Though she may not be a boundary-pusher or a conceptual designer she continues to create works that bring joy. Though they are often simple the are made with care and passion, and there is no doubt in the rest of the group’s mind–she is truly an artist.

heARTfelt Thursdays: Overlap and Blur

“And there are never really endings, happy or otherwise. Things keep going on, they overlap and blur, your story is part of your sister’s story is part of many other stories, and there is no telling where any of them may lead.”  -Erin Morgenstern

Sculpture - Mermaid

Mimi is an Alumni member of our Passion 4 Youth art group.  Though Mimi was not ‘on the street’ when she joined, she was street-engaged and seeking community while struggling with her personal identity. She immediately fell in love with P4Y’s vision, and enjoyed being creative in a supportive group of peers. In the P4Y community she began to work-through her questions of identity, which is a remarkable thing to see.

Mimi spent a long time on this piece, with a lot of detail work and attention on the sculpture’s painting and hair. At one of P4Y’s bi-annual Art Show a woman Mimi was discussing the project with ended-up donating this hand-dye fiber. It was the perfect fit!

Mimi eventually left the program, leaving a space open to someone she thought might need this kind of help more. She left this piece behind, and has offered to have it auctioned off in support of the program. Her time at P4Y was very special to her and the rest of its community, and P4Y was privileged to be a part of journey of self-discovery. It is also interesting to think of how she chose to allow another to take her place, knowing what good it could do for someone else. Her identity will always be a part of the P4Y community, as she shaped herself within it she also altered the nature of the community, in a wonderful way.

heARTfelt Thursday: All in the Detail


Acrylic - White Tree on Black

This piece is called “Topsy-Turvy”, and has a very unique quality to it. Try imagine that you are looking at it upside down, or even try and move your head to the side and see it for yourself. Once the piece has been flipped and viewed upside down the imagine of the bare branches becomes a robust tree! Cara loves very detailed work, and uses a variety of small brushes to produce pieces such as the one above. One of the best gifts Cara received was a pair of magnifying glasses someone donated to P4Y so that she could really focus in on the delicate work she loves. Cara also paints a lot of darker pieces, she mixes her darker colours with reds and pinks but always seem to let these delicate rays of white shine brightly in her work. It is hard to look at Cara’s work and not imagine the interesting story behind it all.

heARTfelt Thursdays: I Just Need Somebody to Lean On

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” -Albert Schweitzer

Collage - Woman                   Collage - Wedding Couple

Grace is a very bright person, you can see it as soon as you meet her; it is in her smile, her abundant laughter, and especially her kindness. Now, Grace is not technically a street youth, to our knowledge she has never lived on the streets, but she is at risk of homelessness. Struggling during her adolescence, Grace felt lost and dropped-out of high school. She found friendship among her street-engaged peers. Another P4Y participant brought her to the group and she immediately connect with what P4Y is all about. With that extra support, mentorship and care, Grace has continued to grow into herself. Now employed, with a good relationship with her family, and back in school, Grace is a great example of what personal support can do for someone. Grace didn’t start coming to P4Y for the art, though what you see above are two wonderful collages, she has always said she wasn’t very artistic and has been hesitant when creating. She came for the community, and it is evident how much it has done for her.