Program helps ‘wanderers’ paint for a brighter future

Former Patriot Patrick Pass works on his painting.
Anne Steele
Former Patriot Patrick Pass works on his painting.

WALPOLE — The Home for Little Wanderers finished up its yearlong Voices & Visions art program with a painting party that paired “VIPs” with children to paint prehistoric scenes on canvases to be auctioned off at the organization’s gala fund-raiser in May.

Joan Wallace-Benjamin, president and chief executive of the Home, joined Natixis Global Asset Management president and chief executive John T. Hailer, former New England Patriot Patrick Pass, and three children from the Home’s Longview Farm to show off their artistic abilities Wednesday at the child and family service agency’s new Walpole campus.

Voices & Visions started more than 20 years ago as a small exhibit, but has since evolved into the Home’s largest fund-raiser to include hundreds of works — written and visual — created by children in the residential and day programs throughout the year. This year’s theme is “A Journey Through the Ancient Past.”


Most of the children in the program are in the custody of the state and have experienced abuse or neglect.

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“In addition to the art pieces that kids make, there are also stories that accompany them,” said Wallace-Benjamin. “Each art piece tells a lot about kids’ experiences, and [they’re] very revealing about some of the things for which they feel good and some of the things for which they don’t.”

Brian Barresi, an art teacher at Longview Farm, said Voices & Visions is a way for children to express their creativity.

Pass, who says he grew up in circumstances similar to those of some of the children in the Home for Little Wanderers program, said he supports the art program because it is a gateway for youngsters who want to improve themselves but do not have the guidance.

“I wish that more of my friends had had the opportunity to take advantage of a program like this,” he said. “I think I would have gone to a lot more graduations than funerals.”


Hailer, this year’s Voices & Visions honoree, also gave high marks to the program.

“For a few moments you’re focused in and not worrying about all the stress of life,” he said, as he touched up the paint on a pterodactyl’s wings. “Being able to find those moments where they can just kick back and relax and enjoy and learn from it is terrific opportunity.”

Does he think his canvas will do well in the fund-raiser?

“Depends if my mom comes,” he said. “But hopefully we’ll be able to raise enough to keep these classes going that are so terrific.”

Anne M. Steele can be reached at anne.steele@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AnneMarieSteele.