Tag Archives: Dresner Foundation Soul Studio

dino on wheels

Dylan Yates’ ‘DINOmite’ Artwork Adorns Royal Oak Parking Meters

dinos meter
For a humble, quiet-mannered artist who isn’t fond of the spotlight, Dylan Yates and his dinosaur-themed artwork sure are getting lots of attention.

And the City of Royal is grateful for that.

Dylan, an artist since the Dresner Foundation Soul Studio opened in 2016, was commissioned by his hometown to create vibrant-colored wraps for the city’s parking meters.

“A few years ago, the city added bike hitches to the meters in downtown Royal Oak and no one noticed them,” says Judy Davids, community engagement specialist for the City of Royal Oak. “We knew we had to make the meters pop so we came up with the idea to wrap them in art.”

A former editor of Royal Oak Patch, Davids was familiar with Dylan’s artwork and knew he’d be perfect for the job.

“I love his use of color and his playful images,” she added.

After Davids reached out to the Yates family – and they got the green light for funding from the city’s art commission – the project got rolling.

Dinos on Wheels

dino on wheels
Deciding on a design for his drawing wasn’t easy for the 24-year-old, says his mom, Donna Yates.

At first, Dylan – who has been enthralled with dinosaurs since childhood – wasn’t convinced his muse would pair well with the cycling theme.

“Dinosaurs don’t work with bicycles,” Dylan told his mom.

But with a little coaching – and lots of encouragement — from Soul Studio creative director Adam LaVoy, he soon changed his mind.

A Google search turned up images that helped Dylan formulate his own vision.

“Showing instead of telling makes all the difference in the world,” says Adam.
Then, the young artist quickly went to work.

Dylan drew 10 to 12 different dinosaur images, each one in a matter of minutes.

Working side by side, the pair scanned Dylan’s drawings into the computer and used graphic design software to select colors and arrange patterns. The result: bold, brightly colored dinos riding a variety of bicycles and unicycles set against a beautiful turquoise background with subtle images of prehistoric leaves.

Dylan’s design was a hit, his mom says, and the wraps caught the eyes of passers-by within minutes of being permanently affixed to 10 city meters last spring.

Artistic Dynamo

The project – and Friendship Circle — have helped her shy, unassuming son gain the confidence he needs to take his artistic gift to the next level. Up until he joined the Soul Studio, Dylan hadn’t really fancied himself an artist – even though his emerging talent indicated otherwise.

“It’s been demonstrated throughout his life that art was his strength,” says Donna, adding that he studied visual imaging and fine art in high school.

“He used to say he was a paleontologist who does art,” says Donna. But today he proudly exclaims: “I’m an artist!
“He owns it now.”

And, she says, the Soul Studio has given Dylan so much more than a chance to explore his gift.

“He’s gained confidence, self-esteem, social skills, peer interaction and is building relationships,” she says. “It’s art – but
it’s all those other things that we all need.”

You can spot Dylan’s Dinos near the following Royal Oak landmarks: Beruit Palace, Blaze, Ewe Nique Knits, Hermann’s, Burn Rubber, Noodles, AE Salon, Rock on Third, City Hall and Andiamo restaurant.

Story by Holly Griffin

Soul Stories: Sam Morris “Sweet (Hugs) Soul”

Nothing feeds the soul quite like a job well done – and Sam Morris gets his spiritual nourishment at the Soul Café and Soul Studio. Sam’s line of Sweet Hugs artwork, clothing and products has become very popular in recent months. But, he’s also well known for his work at Soul Café.

“Working in the café is wonderful,” says Sam, a busser from West Bloomfield who has learned as much about himself and his abilities on the job as he has about restaurant work itself.
There, he says, “I feel my soul.”

From greeting customers and serving water, to ensuring every glass sparkles and each piece of silverware is in its proper place, the 25-year-old with an infectious smile puts his all into every task. And his cheerful demeanor warms the hearts of everyone he encounters.

“Sam is a very joyous human being,” says his mother, Carolyn Sklarchyk. “He has always been a very social … person. He loves greeting everybody that comes in. Everybody’s happy to see him and he feels a part of the whole, a part of something bigger.”

Sam beams with pride as he describes the skills he’s gained over the past year. Jobs that once overwhelmed the young man who has autism, now uplift him.

“I used to feel it’s too much for me,” he says, recalling the days when his training first began and his list of responsibilities seemed insurmountable.

But an incredible sense of self-awareness coupled with strategies he’s learned turned self-doubt into pride and frustration into gratitude.

“(I’m) unbelievably grateful … knowing how much my brain has handled things,” says Sam, who is quick to point out that his autism “makes me smart.”

So smart, in fact, he’s developed methods for coping with the pressure that comes with the rigors of restaurant life – making lists, setting priorities and pacing himself, just to name a few.

“He’s outstanding … (and) very smart,” says Johnnie Johnson, property manager for the Soul Café. “He listens. Whatever you show him, he’ll knock it out with no problem.”

While the Soul Cafe job is relatively new for Sam, his relationship with Friendship Circle isn’t. Sam has grown up with the organization, having participated in its programs since the nonprofit’s inception in 1994.

“They’ve followed him throughout his entire life,” his mother says. “It’s more than even just a sense of belonging. He knows that he is loved.”

Today, Sam’s involvement with Friendship Circle extends beyond the Soul Café. He spends quite a bit of time in the Soul Studio, doing ceramics in the morning and painting in the afternoon.

The studio has “given him a way to communicate emotionally … through painting,” Carolyn says.

And his artistic expression resonates with people. A chair he made – with an image of two people embracing on the front and a rendering of a heart on the back — auctioned for $14,000 during an event to raise funds for the Soul Studio.

Sam was ecstatic — and proud he created something that brings joy to others. But it’s his job at the Soul Cafe, he says, that feeds his desire to give back.

“They treat me well and I know what I’m doing with my job,” he says. “I’ve gotten very good.”

Adults with special needs put talents to work at Soul Studio

Adam Egrin made an electric guitar, cutting the shape of the instrument from wood and piecing together parts from other guitars. He painted it white and adhered colorful beads to the front of it. He plugged it in and strummed earlier this month at the Dresner Foundation Soul Studio in West Bloomfield, where Egrin is among roughly 60 artists who paint, work with fiber and clay, sew, make music, take photographs and use technology to reveal talents hidden to the average person. Each of them has special needs, whether it’s autism or cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or other conditions, but all are welcome at Soul Studio, said Bassie Shemtov, who founded the art center about a year ago with her husband, Levi Shemtov.

Read more

Farber Soul Center offers adults with special needs chance to excel in art, cafe jobs

You create a special space for children with special needs: the Friendship Circle. It’s a great success, but what do you offer those children when they grow up? “You know, for several years we had our lovely families, that are like family to us, calling and saying, ‘What are you doing with our kids? They’re sitting at home eating, playing video games. It’s not OK. My kid is getting depressed…’” said Bassie Shemtov, director of Friendship Circle. That’s the challenge that led Shemtov and her husband to develop another very special place, this one for adults with special needs.

Read more

Oakland celebrity chefs compete to help children with special needs

Chef Derik Watson has a warm place in his heart — and his stove — for the Friendship Circle. That’s why he, amid a trio of Oakland County culinary professionals, will share his culinary skills to help children with special needs in a Celebrity Chef event.Three local chefs will cook up something special at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at the Farber Soul Center and Soul Café in West Bloomfield Township. Proceeds will benefit Friendship Circle of Michigan, an organization that provides programs and services to individuals with special needs and their families.

Read more

West Bloomfield cafe and art studio employs residents with special needs

Soul Café, which recently opened in West Bloomfield, is partially staffed by skilled, highly-trained adults with special needs. Adjacent to the restaurant is Dresner Soul Studio, where emerging artists with special needs display and sell their artwork — pottery, weaving, photography, painting, woodworking, silkscreening and more.

Read more

Soul Satisfaction: Michigan Friendship Circle Opens Arts Studio and Cafe

At the Farber Soul Center, there is no shortage of “A-ha!” moments. For Noah Sriro, 24, who works in the Soul Cafe, it’s the joy of his very first tip—tangible recognition for a job well done. For facilitating staff artist Carolyn Morris, it’s the joy that comes when a fledgling artist discovers he can weave a scarf in a pattern of his own design. For volunteer artist Lori Champagne, it’s the joy of introducing an artist to a new technique and watching the creativity flow. And for parents of young adults with special needs, it’s having a place where their sons and daughters can go to learn new skills and take pride in their accomplishments.

Read more

Digitas Gets Creative At Friendship Circle

Digitas Gets Creative At Friendship Circle

Volunteerism is what makes the Friendship Circle go round. When Digitas, a global marketing and technology agency, chose to devote their employee volunteer day to our cause, we were thrilled. On June 5th, we welcomed 40 Digitas employees to Friendship Circle and with them came enthusiasm, excitement, and a desire to assist our mission in a very special way.

Digitas Volunteer Day

A group shot of Digitas Staff excited about getting their hands dirty.

With the completion of the Farber Soul Center on track for later this year, Friendship Circle customized a unique volunteer experience for this group of creative minds.

IMG_9212

Friendship Circle volunteer Bonnie Laker Winkler shares how much the experience of giving back means to her.

One of numerous impressive aspects of the Soul Center is the Soul Cafe. The Cafe will have a clean, industrial look to it and a dining area made up of 10 cafe tables. What better way for Digitas to leave their artistic mark than through developing and executing 10 modern designs for our table tops, painted alongside our Soul Center artists!

Soul Center   Friendship Circle

A Rendering of the Farber Soul Center which will be open in the Spring of 2016.

The day began with a tour of Lifetown- the afterschool program rooms, gymnasium, and Weinberg Village. Volunteers had an idea of what they were stepping into that day, but like many things in life, you can only describe the wonder of Friendship Circle so well. To see it is to believe it.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Bassie Shemtov leads a tour through Lifetown. Here she walks Digitas employees through the art room.

After the tour, Digitas volunteers joined our Soul Center artists and staff in our multipurpose room for the Cafe art project. With the help of stencils created on our very own laser cutter, the volunteers and artists combined their talents to bring the table top designs to life.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Soul Center artist Casandra Thompson and Soul Center Operations Director Jordan Shifman design the layout for a Cafe table with Digitas volunteers.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Soul Center artist Sam Morris paints a table top alongside Digitas volunteers.

The end result was a collection of images that exceeded all expectations. Once the tops are coated and the bases are attached, the tables will serve as a fond memory of artistic collaboration. A beautiful first impression on the Farber Soul Center.

Digitas Volunteer Day

Digitas volunteers display their beautiful work!

The Friendship Circle thanks Digitas for their efforts, skills, and vision. We can’t wait to see the tables displayed in the finished facility.

Friendship Circle Opening Cafe and Art Studio for Vocational Opportunities

Since 1994 Friendship Circle has been dedicated to providing exciting new programs to children with special needs and their families. However, those amazing children that joined us in 1994 are now amazing young adults. In order to continue to give them the encouragement and support that they need, we need to continue to adapt and advance our programming.

A New Adventure: The Farber Soul Center

Soul Center RenderingAfter acquiring a portion of a shopping center located at Drake Rd., just south of Walnut Lake Rd in West Bloomfield, Friendship Circle will soon begin to construct and operate a Cafe and Art Studio.  The Farber Soul Center, as it will be named, from a generous $2.1 million donation from the William and Audrey Farber Family Foundation, will be a facility where Friendship Circle will extend programming into the lives of adults with special needs through culinary, digital and traditional arts, thus getting the much needed on-the-job training.  We are continuing to raise an additional half million dollars which is necessary to proceed.

About the Soul Cafe

lighter-look4Soul Cafe will be a gathering place, with a state of the art kosher restaurant.  The unique menu will be unparalleled in the area and most importantly will be created and served by their staff of both, typically-able, and those who have special needs, as they work together as a team.  These young adults with special needs will receive on the job training in kitchen and serving skills. The café also gives the existing Lessons for Life program, currently utilized by over 200 schools around the metro Detroit area, the opportunity to expand their lessons for students with special needs into dining etiquette, utilizing the café’s real-world setting.

About the Soul Studio

inside1Soul Studio will be a professional art studio that encourages these adults with special needs to find their passion and explore the many different artistic media that will be available to them. Friendship Circle will submit the artists’ work to be shown in galleries, entered in contests and sold to commercial and residential customers.

Cutting edge digital technologies such as photography, video, 3-D printing and animation will be available to help them express themselves.  These artists, with the help of state of the art computers, will have the opportunity to sell tangible productions of their digital designs. Of course, no art studio would be complete without artists being able to learn and create paintings, ceramic, weaving, jewelry, printmaking and folk art.

inside2Art Gallery

Also located inside the Farber Soul Center will be the Soul Gallery, which will proudly exhibit the works of the artist.  The gallery will be open daily to the public for viewing and purchasing.

A Message from the Farber Family

Nanci Farber, daughter in law, said, “The Friendship Circle is an entity which is unparalleled in our community.   It is with great joy and a deep warmth and appreciation to The Friendship Circle that the Farber family decided to facilitate the creation and running of the Farber Soul Center.  We however, are only a piece. It takes so many to build such an incredible space. We are indebted to everyone involved and truly grateful to be able to be a part of this amazing journey. The added bonus of this new facility is that it allows Friendship Circle another benefit to their families with children who have special needs that currently are enrolled in their existing programming.  In the evenings, once the Farber Soul Center closes, these children with special needs and their teen volunteers will be able to delve into the arts and find their passions.”