CAA’s Artists and SCU’s SCCAP Students Create Art and Inspirational Friendships

Over the last few years, College of Adaptive Arts has formed special relationships with college students from Santa Clara University’s Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP). Part of SCCAP’s mission is to create “leaders of competence, conscience and compassion.” Numerous SCU students have volunteered countless hours creating meaningful relationships with CAA students especially students in the art department.

Artists anticipate the arrival of their new friends each quarter. Several SCU students have spent hours with the same artist creating a fun and unique learning experience for both. I’ve had the great pleasure to watch theses blossoming relationships using art as a vehicle for teaching, trust, and friendship. During CAA’s Spring Quarter, SCCAP students hosted an art show of over 25 CAA artists.

SCCAP student, Liah D’sa coordinated the beautiful event held at SCU’s Mission Garden surrounded by palm trees and roses. The evening couldn’t have been better as supportive family and SCU students honored our artists and all their hard work. It was truly moving observing our artists excitement as SCU friends stopped by to check out their artwork.

I am so grateful for the time and compassion the college students have poured into our artists. College of Adaptive Arts will continue to foster these meaningful and inspirational friendships as our artists grow and Santa Clara University SCCAP students become emerging leaders in the community.

By Nicole Ferguson
Director & Professor, CAA School of Art          

Honoring Kim Rains’ Legacy

Kim Rains was an exceptional human being.  Kim was kind, caring, funny, intelligent, passionate, visionary.  I was looking back this week on all of the videos she helped produce over the years for the college.  She did so very much for us to grow this collegiate model of education since the very beginning.  She was in almost all of our CreaTV PSAs, in our original marketing videos, she was CAA’s first valedictorian, she gave the student speech at our Giving Breakfast in May.  She was the interviewer for Ms. Wheelchair CA, Ms. Wheelchair America, and Richard Alexandre Rittelmann, a world-renowned European opera singer.  She would often contribute amazing ideas for new classes, new dance choreography, and more opportunities to showcase abilities in the community.  She was a true leader.

I would love to watch her at a site when a guest would walk through our doors.  More times than not, she would stop what she was doing, make a bee-line to the guest, one hand firmly thrust out for a handshake mid-stride while the other hand firmly on her trach as she marched across the floor to introduce herself and let the guest know that she was a student leader and ambassador to our college.  I would love to be on her heels as she often caught guests a bit off-guard with a follow-up that Kim is our very first valedictorian of our college.  I would love to watch the faces of each guest when they were trying to reconcile what they were seeing and hearing, and you for the overwhelming majority, they would break into a wide grin of sheer joy.

In one of our very first marketing videos, she stated that she wanted to start her own ministry.  Then, in the last video I took of her when she visited our art faire on November 4, she had said she was sorry for ministering, at which time I said you can minister to us forever.  She said, Ok, and proceeded to say this world is about Faith, Love, and Caring.

I believe that Kim was able to realize her life’s dream of starting her own ministry in the short time I think she knew she had to share with us on this earth.  I am not a very religious being by nature, but when I was in her presence, I very clearly felt a divine force that was simply incredible to experience.

I think at the very fundamental level that force is love, and it still strongly runs through me each time I remember Kim’s wide smile and liberal chuckle where she would crinkle up her eyes and heave her shoulders in laughter.  She would often tell me, DeAnna, you are the best teacher in the world.  And I sensed that she meant it with all of her being.  I felt so safe, so inspired, so loved.  When I was around Kim I felt like that was the best moment of my life – that nothing else mattered except for the human bond taking place at that very moment.  I believe I was feeling unconditional love and caring, and I believe that Kim knew exactly what she was doing to bring out the very best in each of us.  Kim most definitely achieved her goal of starting her own ministry.

As I look at the vibrant picture of Kim holding that fan, I hear Kim continue to minister to me every day.  Through this picture I hear the message, “You’re on the right track, De & Pam – don’t give up.”  It’s great that adults with disabilities have jobs in this world where they are holding brooms or cleaning cloths or pushing carts.  These are noble and essential tools.  However, our true contributions and gifts to the world are when you give an adult with a disability a microphone or a paintbrush or a prop such as a fan.” That’s when their true essence can shine through, and we are all better human beings through experiencing their joy and abilities.

And I think often to myself how hard it is to keep going sometimes with this college model, and how often I fail in my attempt to get others to understand.  But then I look at this photo and I hear her words, I feel her love, I sense her ministry, “You’re on the right track.  I got up everyday for 39 years when often the world was not on my side, and you can do it to.” And I thank Kim for sharing her vision with us.  And I reaffirm my pledge to her and to you that we will not give up showcasing the authentic abilities, gifts, and passions of adults of all abilities.  I love you, Kim Rains – you are my true hero forever and always.

-DeAnna Pursai

It’s Your Time to Shine

by Sharon Lea, CAA Professor

It’s your time to shine
society has come a long way
sometimes you have been overlooked
some would simply turn away

People would lose interest
if speech was slow or slurred
instead of taking a few minutes of time
everyone wants to be heard

They couldn’t take a moment
to see inside your beautiful mind
maybe not the quickest one
but ideas, opinions of every kind

People often averted their eyes
So afraid of what they didn’t understand
if they only asked, you would tell them
simply ask and take my hand

They would see a wheelchair
or the tremor in both of your hands
thinking your mind wasn’t capable
to learn about geography or foreign lands

It’s your time to shine
to experience all of what life can be
society has come a long way
for everyone to be happy and free!