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Affordable Housing , Community Development , Homelessness , Supportive Housing

A Stranger No More

18 October 2016

Abby Carter, local Artist

In 2012, I walked into the soup kitchen at St. Vincent de Paul in Middletown as a stranger. I wanted to volunteer my time and teach drawing because that is what I know. I showed up every Tuesday and spread my art supplies out across the dining room tables. A few people here and there showed interest, but it was a slow beginning. Not much changed until Lydia Brewster, the Assistant Director for Community Services, asked if I’d like to do portraits of the guests. As a painter, I spend most of my time capturing the faces of my friends and relatives and so I jumped at the chance.

After four years of Tuesdays, the walls of the soup kitchen are lined with portraits of over 230 of its guests. Across the street, large and small paintings of the guests are now on display at the MAC 650 gallery.

In this age of celebrity, many people are left unseen and under-appreciated. I hope these portraits help you to see the varied and interesting faces I see every Tuesday.

This project began because I felt the need to give back, and it has turned into a part of my life that I never want to lose. The people of this community have given me their warmth and spirit — and in a way, a sense that I belong. Isn’t that how we all want to feel?

St. Vincent de Paul in Middletown focuses on "meeting needs and offering hope" to the poor and homeless in greater Middletown, Connecticut, providing meals, basic support services, emergency funds, and supportive housing to those in need. 

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