Today I was put on a field assignment with my fellow agent (alias: Programming Director) Brandon at McDowell Place, an assisted living facility here in Danville. My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to get some action-packed and dynamic photos of one of our outreach programs at work.
This particular operation involved the McDowell Place residents, who serve as â€˜grandbuddiesâ€™ to local kindergartners by helping them with simple arts activities. If there is any dossier in my office that should be stamped with a big red TOP SECRET, Operation Arts Cart would be it. Though this program is what we proudly write about in every single grant application we fill out, it isnâ€™t something the public, or anyone other than Brandon, really knows much about.
Now, having come out of Operation Arts Cart alive, I can debrief the rest of you on it in as much detail as my typewriter and case-report will allow.
1:35 pmâ€”arrived at McDowell Place and was greeted by multiple waves of senior citizens. I think a few were bugged, and at least one had a cleverly-concealed camera in her brooch, but this didnâ€™t stop Brandon and me from successfully entering the compound.
1:45 pmâ€”the swarm of kindergartners arrived and rendezvoused with their octogenarian counterparts. Objective 1 completed: two sectors of our community in need of social and arts experience were receiving it. Better yet, they were performing this task for each other! What could be better?
1:50 pmâ€”Brandon initiated a session on art vocabulary, including but not limited to symmetry, self-portraits, and collage. Objective 2 completed: art education was had by all.
2:15 pmâ€”all operatives were well on their way to constructing collages of their own faces, usually with help from a grandbuddy. Objective 3 indirectly completed: smile and laugh levels were off the charts.
2:20 pmâ€”breaching my protocol as photographer, I stepped in to help one of the operatives with their mission, assisting with cutting out ears, drawing shapes for eyes, and generally encouraging proper scissor usage. Operative expressed doubts about being able to cut out a circle, but gave it his best. In the end, he ended up having a purple heart for a nose, and two almost-circles for eyes. Objective 4 completed: creating a learning environment devoid of judgment or expectations. Arts Cart is about having fun and trying your best, not making art that looks â€œright.â€
2:25 pmâ€”All operatives jostled to show off their newly-created work to me and the other special agents in the room. Objective 5 completed: instilling pride in a job well done and a successful creative endeavor.
2:30 pmâ€”Brandon and I made a successful exit from the location. While Iâ€™m almost certain we were subject to clandestine retinal scans and fingerprint identification by the â€œresidentsâ€ relaxing in rocking chairs outside, we were able to board our escape helicopter, which hovered over the Arts Center long enough to let us repel onto the roof and enter via a ventilation shaft.