“Life is hard in the city,” Kerri Johnson, the leader of Graffiti 2 Works in New York City, says. “In order to ease a few of these tensions, our artisans have learned a skill to help build their self-esteem. They have a place to belong, a place to earn a little money, and a place to learn more about our Father.”
Because one in five young adults in Mott Haven are not in school or employed, Graffiti 2 Works coaches adults to develop the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual skills necessary to achieve their best. Learning to sew and sell products gives these artisans jobs and builds their self-esteem. As the artisans of Graffiti 2 Works sew together, they develop relationships with each other and with our Father.
Right now, at Graffiti 2, four women are learning to provide for their families. “All four artisans live within a few blocks of the ministry center.” Kerri says. “Even though Mott Haven has a huge population, our few blocks have a very small-town feel. The artisans are a part of the positive outlook Graffiti 2 displays.”
Graffiti 2 makes beautiful, hand-sewn products for WorldCrafts such as the Arrow Key Fob, Christmas Stocking Ornament, and Hope Lanyard. Through making these products, artisans are taught how work is beneficial for us because our Father created us to work.
“Beginning with a pattern and ending with a product, it’s all handmade in-house,” Kerri says. “Diega takes the lead on patterns, and shows Emily how to hand cut material in a way to get the most out of the fabric. The other ladies sew on machines either at Graffiti 2 or in their homes. Through WorldCrafts orders, hope is provided that a bill gets paid. It gives hope that a child has a payment for school fees. It gives hope for the little extras in life.”
Carmen, an artisan at Graffiti 2, talks about the impact the organization has had on her life. “Being an artisan has taught me a skill that I value and enjoy. I have learned how to patch up things, invent things, and also help people fix their clothing, which I love and enjoy,” Carmen says. “Graffiti 2 has taught me how to value life, taught me about moral strengths, and last but not least, to love our Father.”
Carmen has obviously been incredibly impacted by the work of Graffiti 2 Works. “We don’t know what might have happened if our artisans or their families were not involved with Graffiti 2. There is a huge difference that one-degree change will make. Right now, up close, one degree doesn’t look much different. But when we step back, as years go by, that one degree changes an entire life course,” Kerri says. “We are in this long-term.”
In the time of the novel coronavirus, the artisans are doing fairly well. Being that New York is a hot spot, Kerri says prayers would be appreciated. “Pray for our artisans’ financial needs; many of them have other jobs or do odd jobs to help with their income. Right now, no one is working,” she says. “We don’t know how long this will last. So far we are all healthy. We have not heard of anyone from any of our families who are ill with the virus.” Join us in prayer for everyone involved with Graffiti 2 Works.
Connect with Graffiti 2 Works through Compassion Ministry Connections.
Purchase handmade products from Graffiti 2 Works at WorldCrafts.org.
Written by McKenna Neville, WMU Compassion Ministries spring 2020 intern.