Versant Volunteers: Spotlight on Ryan Krafczik

Free Arts for Abused Children 


What is the purpose of the organization(s) for which you volunteer?

Free Arts uses the healing powers of art to help abused and homeless children build resiliency and learn to trust and heal. The kids in their programs have experienced family trauma, homelessness, and violence. To begin to heal, they need mentoring, a caring community, and an opportunity to learn new skills and express themselves.


When did you start volunteering with Free Arts?

I began more than a year ago at the suggestion of Liz Shabaker, who is the Board President of Free Arts. She thought I would be a good fit for the organization.


What duties do you perform?

I serve as a mentor to kids that live in a treatment facility. Free Arts relies on volunteers with a range of skills to offer arts programming. While working on art projects, conversations with the kids come up naturally. I’m not a counselor, but I can listen and be a friend. No artistic skill is necessary to volunteer with Free Arts!


Why is such an organization needed in the community?

Because homeless and abused kids have a need to be heard. These kids have the right to be safe and to find ways to express themselves. That’s what Free Arts does.


What are your reasons for volunteering?

I decided to become a volunteer to help kids who are in situations where they had no choice in what happened to them. To see the needs of a child being met, being able to listen to them and be a friend, is a very rewarding experience.


What challenges does the organization face?

I’d say that all other challenges pale in comparison to the need for funding to accomplish Free Arts’ mission. They never lack for vision, ideas or enthusiasm. The challenge for non-profit organizations is always finding sufficient funds to safeguard their financial health, while working toward a stable future.


What rewards to do you receive from volunteer work?

Volunteering allows me to connect to the community and feel that I am helping to make it a better place. Even helping with the smallest tasks can make a real difference. I see it every time I’m with the kids at Free Arts.


What has volunteering helped you learn about yourself?

It’s shown me that immersing myself in something that helps others, allows me to take a break from the other pressures of daily life. When I’m with the kids, I leave my phone in my car and I’m completely focused on the matter at hand. I think volunteering helps me as much as does them.


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