BOISE, Idaho — Color, creativity, and laughter are making the often dim realities for these homeless shelter guests-- a little brighter. Every Monday and Wednesday, a new collective called The Homeless Art Coalition encourages Interfaith Sanctuary shelter guests to express themselves through art -- and one man says it's helping him to recover from years of addiction.
"This art is just incredible, ya know? I have a small part in it — that’s my hand right there," said Marcus Carbajal, pointing to a canvas covered in handprints in paint.
Homeless shelter guest Carbajal has M.S., and he said he was diagnosed at age 15.
"I do have a hard time drawing, painting, and even sticking my hand on a canvas. But I have friends like Geoff here who has helped me," said Carbajal. "Art has helped me change my life around.”
Now part of the Homeless Art Coalition, he says he’s been able to find recovery from years of drug use.
"Starting at 15, ended at this age — 22. And it was all... art had a big standing in it," said Carbajal.
He said the coalition helps him feel empowered.
"I'm still capable of creating the beauty, like anybody else," said Carbajal.
And this is the kind of atmosphere shelter staff say they're hoping to foster.
"There's all kinds of levels living in this shelter, and everyone can find a safe way to engage," said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director, Interfaith Sanctuary.
Geoffrey McCaully helped bring it to Interfaith.
"[It] kinda came up at the top of my head of my head when I was out there flying a sign one day, and I decided to start painting pictures live out on the corner of Fairview and Curtis, and basically it erased the stigma for me because people started to talk to me, and wanted to know who I was," said McCaully.
Not only breaking stigmas, he says making art gives him an emotional outlet.
"It’s kept me out of trouble... it’s pretty much just made me a better person altogether," said McCaully.
With the coalition, he hopes art will do the same for others.
"I think that it’ll help some people get off the street. I think that it’ll help people get off drugs. I think that it’ll help give someone a purpose in this community, and mainly, it’ll help bring us all together as a community," said McCaully.
The handprint paintings the shelter guests made this week will be sold at this year's Xtreme Holiday Xtravaganza , a fundraiser for interfaith later this month. Proceeds from those paintings will help fund tools and materials for the artists to use throughout the year.