As part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. Corie Ventura caught up with a group that uses art to boost confidence.

Shepherd’s Haven is a ministry for adults that have special needs,” Donny Mayo said. He is the Executive Director of the program.

They operate residential homes in Arlington as well as a day center that is housed inside Bellevue Baptist Church.

“I can do any kind of design,” one of the students told us.

Once they age out of school, adults with special needs still need opportunities for personal growth and ways to express themselves artistically.

“We want to offer opportunities for each person to find opportunities to live a life of value and purpose and to flourish no matter where they are in their ability,” Mayo said.  

We caught up with a few of the men and women of Shepherd’s Haven during their art time.

“I’m painting thank you cards,” a student told us.

Ronnie Coverstone lives in one of the semi-independent homes and attends the day center every day. “Because I just love to do art. I love to do ceramics and I love everybody here!” Ronnie said.

For Travis, who comes to the day center four days a week, it’s about community. “Talking and catching up, and, you know, talking about movies and stuff that we like,” Travis said.

Abby, his tablemate, just finished painting a few crosses. “China sea. It comes out a greenish brown. It’s green but has brown speckles in it,” Abby said.

Shannon, who has been blind since birth, is still able to paint pieces with watercolors, with a little help from a staff member. What is really neat about Shepherd’s Haven is that everyone is part of the process of making or painting art.

“We just call this our store room,” Mayo said.

Once it’s finished, each piece is signed by the adult with special needs along with their picture and their short bio.Then, the pieces are either given away or are available for sale at local stores.

“All of a sudden, ‘adults with special needs’ is something that maybe is in someone’s mind, but even to go a step further, someone’s name is attached to the phrase ‘adults with special needs,'” Mayo said.

This is why our anonymous donor wanted to give Shepherd’s Haven a thousand dollars.
Because when you offer a safe and loving place for adults with special needs to be seen and have a purpose, they will thrive!

They are a true Community Changer.