Author Archives: Robin Schwartz

Soul Stories: Dylan Somberg

Animals – bright, colorful and expressive animals – come to life in the artwork and imagination of Soul Studio artist Dylan Somberg of Shelby Township.

“Soul Studio is an artist’s paradise,” Dylan says. “When I come to the Soul Studio, I feel happy, excited, creative.”
Dylan was just 4 or 5 years old, when his mother, Jeannine, says his artistic gift started to take shape. Doodles and sketches gave way to more precise imagery. Patterns began to emerge.

From the time Dylan could pick up a pencil, he began to draw animals.

“It was always very calming for him,” Jeannine recalls. “He can relate to animals, and I think that they relate to him. There is a natural connection.”

Jeannine was determined to nurture her son’s talent. Because art was not part of the curriculum in Dylan’s grade school special education program, she turned elsewhere, enrolling Dylan in private art and photography classes.
And then she discovered Soul Studio, which she says has been a godsend for her son.

“Soul Studio is an incredible place,” Jeannine says. “They’ve taken his strengths, they’ve taken his goals and are providing continued vocational training for his career.

“It’s made such a difference in [Dylan’s] life.”

A fan of abstract and impressionist art, Dylan says the value of art lies not just in the aesthetic but in the friendship it fosters and the joy it brings to others. In addition to painting and drawing, he enjoys using computer design, laser cutting and engraving to enhance his geometric creations.

“Being able to sell something that people want is wonderful,” says Dylan, who has autism. “I (feel) happy and proud that I made that.”

After he took first place in an amateur digital photography contest, Dylan dreamed of a means to share his artwork with the world.

From this, Dylan’s Photographic Arts was born.

Through his business, created with the help of his CPA mom, Dylan digitally transforms photographs of clients’ beloved pets into cherished pop art reminiscent of the great Andy Warhol.

Asked which animal is his favorite, Dylan, who has a cat and dog of his own, responds: “All of them.”

Click here to view and purchase some of Dylan’s Soul Studio creations.

New ‘Animal Friends’ Program Brings Wags + Smiles

Six furry friends marched through the doors of Friendship Circle’s Meer Family Friendship Center on Thursday and right into the hearts of all who met them.

The therapy dogs and their handlers visited the West Bloomfield center for the first session of a new pilot program called “Animal Friends” – the first of its kind at Friendship Circle.

“It is a six-week-long program that seeks to give our participants hands-on interaction experience with animals, educate them about humane animal treatment and pet care and allow them to benefit from the therapeutic aspects of animal interactions,” said Jenna Simard, the Friendship Circle’s special needs program coordinator.

The mental and physical benefits of animal companionship are well-documented. Scientific studies have shown therapy animals can lower blood pressure, improve heart health and aid in relaxation. For people with special needs, these furry friends help to boost socialization, encourage communication and even assist in overcoming speech and emotional disabilities.

Thursday’s visiting canine companions had a profound effect on the center’s participants and volunteer helpers, who took turns reading to the dogs, walking them and feeding them.

There was no fear or trepidation, just smiles, hugs and lots and lots of kisses. And more than a few dog treats, too.

“How many pugs should I get?” asked Clayton, who took a liking to Pearl, a blind pug who does much of her therapy work at Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield. “Two! I want two of them.”

When asked what she liked most about the dogs, Lauren exclaimed: “Cuddly! They’re cuddly!”


Friendship Circle participants, volunteers and staff weren’t the only ones moved by these new bonds forged in fur.

“Look at how special this is,” said Karen Gasior with Therapy Dogs International, who brought her black lab Maizey — a former leader dog who switched to therapy work a couple years ago. “She brings smiles and tears of joy. She’s always happy cheering other people up – that’s the best.”

Visiting with special-needs children was a first for most of the dogs, who spend much of their time at hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

This was true for Lucy, a toy poodle who is relatively new to this line of work. Her handler, Ann Scikorski with Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs, says she and Lucy graduated from their training program last May.

“We wanted to do something with kids … well, I did anyway,” she said with a smile.

This was the first time Casey, a rescued black lab mix, had worked with kids, said her handlers Christine and Dennis Sweers with Mid-Michigan Therapy Dogs. “She was abandoned and took up residence on our porch,” Christine Sweers said. So, she and her husband, Dennis, gave Casey a home and a purpose that fits her personality.

“Casey is a love-motivated dog,” she said.


Thursday’s session was just the beginning. There’s so much more in store for “Animal Friends” participants.

“Throughout the six weeks, we will have a number of guest speakers from animal rescues and veterinary offices,” said Simard. “Participants will interact with the animals in our own pet store and we will see an exotic animal presentation.

“The program is already full,” she said, when asked how interested families might register. But, “we’ll do another one next year!”

Click here to learn more about Friendship Circle’s other exciting programs from trips to sports and more.

We Love Our Volunteers

Friendship Circle’s LifeTown got a little love from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services employees this week – and the special-needs children exploring the facility warmed their hearts in return.

Eight volunteers of the Daimler subsidiary traded their day jobs for morning shifts as police women, manicurists and librarians as part of the company’s Volunteer Day.

The day is voluntary and the employees get to choose where they’d like to donate their time, said Lorraine Paoletti, one of the visiting volunteers.

“It’s so cool,” she said. “(LifeTown) teaches kids life skills, which are so important.”

She and colleague Jana Seidel were all smiles as they played the role of police officers, patrolling the sidewalks and helping kids safely navigate their way around – and across — the winding road.

“I didn’t know what to expect because it was my first time here,” Seidel said, “but the kids are taking (the rules) very seriously and I’m impressed by that.”

The LifeTown experience was a first for most – if not all – of the volunteers, who learned of the facility during a visit to Friendship Circle’s Soul Center.

Across town, fellow volunteer Taleen Newlin took a break from her nail salon receptionist post to visit with co-workers running the library.

“It’s been awesome helping out children with special needs (and) seeing the smiles on their faces,” she said.
Colleague Ashley Beck agreed: “It’s just amazing – all of the real-experiences and the things that (the kids) have to do just to learn … to function in the real world.”

Days like this – and volunteerism, in general — serve as a good reminder of things most people take for granted, the women said.

“I think it is important to do,” Newlin said. “It’s hard to do sometimes because we are all so busy with life so this is a good reminder of the difference this really makes in the community.”

WANT TO VOLUNTEER?
Interested in volunteering with Friendship Circle? We could use help in our Soul Studio, an art program and exhibition space dedicated to the creative growth and expression of adults with special needs. Our program runs Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 3 pm. Click here to complete the volunteer application form or contact our volunteer coordinator Maggie Egrin or (248) 788-8600.

Soul Stories: Megan Donley

Ever since she was a young girl, Megan Donley has had a passion for art. If you can name a medium, there’s a good chance Megan has tried it. Now 24 years old, Megan has found the perfect creative outlet – Soul Studio.

“I feel welcome here,” Megan says.

Born in South Korea, Megan was adopted along with her brother, Matt, when he was 5 and she was just 3 years old. From the beginning, her mother, Judy, saw Megan’s artistic side.

“She’s always liked crafts and things at home. It’s something we’ve always done,” Judy says.

Megan and her mom took a tour of the Soul Studio two days before the start of the pilot program. After looking around, Megan was hooked.

“I’ve never had something like this in my life, never had someone care as much, with people who have the same interests as me,” Megan explains. “It’s a cool experience.”

Megan lists photography, weaving, and ceramics as her favorite activities. She also likes painting and scrapbooking. But you’ll most likely see her behind a camera. She loves taking pictures of her friends and fellow artists and posting photos on social media.


Accomplishment and Pride

Selling her works of art has been a big source of accomplishment and pride. The first piece Megan sold was a string project that depicts the Guardian Building in downtown Detroit.

“Exciting that someone wanted it,” Megan says of the feeling from her first commission. “They wanted to put it in their house, and it’s an original piece of art.”

Megan’s love for the Soul Studio is written all over her face every time she’s there. She’s always smiling and her mom says it’s easy to see why.

“She’s with a very diverse group of people and she’s never had that before,” Judy says. “That’s made her open to everything around her. It’s just a 100 percent positive situation.”

As much as she loves working on her own projects, Megan also gets a great deal of joy out of rooting for her fellow Soul Studio artists. There’s a team aspect to the environment. Friendships and supporting one another, she says, are what it’s all about.

“It’s always uplifting when someone finishes their work,” Megan says. “We always clap or cheer.”

UMatter Week at Birmingham’s Seaholm High School

It was cold and dreary outside, but the mood inside Birmingham’s Seaholm High School was warm and bright as hundreds of students filled the auditorium January 24 to hear moving messages of hope and empowerment during the school’s first-ever UMatter Week, sponsored by The Friendship Circle.

For teens struggling with the rigors of academic life, mental illness, low self-esteem or other personal crises, the message of this Teacher TEDTalk assembly was clear:

You are not alone. You are strong. Your feelings matter. You matter.

And help is within reach.

Powerful Messages, Personal Stories

The speakers – four in all – had different, very personal stories to tell, but they all shared a common bond as members of the Seaholm High family.

“I was changed in an unchanged world,” math teacher Sonali Barve told the students, recalling the loneliness and emptiness she felt after losing her mother in 2015, just weeks before the new school year. “I was afraid I didn’t have anything more to give.”

But those fears, she said, were soon allayed as cards, hugs, e-mails and other signs of support began pouring in from those around her. It showed her, she said, that “I matter to them.”

She encouraged students to be kind, telling the crowd that even the smallest act of kindness can make a world of difference.
Alyonka Larionov, a Seaholm alumna, returned to her high school to share her 10-year battle with anorexia and how it nearly killed her. Her recovery was slow and painful.

“It is hard to be the best version of ourselves,” she said.

But it is possible – and it starts with being true to one’s self and acknowledging the needs of those around you.

Sonali Barve talks about Seaholm’s support after the death of her mother.

Nothing is more powerful, she said, than telling someone else: “I see you. I hear you. You matter to me.” she said.

Then came the most heart-wrenching story of all, as counselor Brian Flatter recounted the “soul-piercing pain” he and his wife suffered when they lost their 10-month-old daughter to a heart condition.

“Bad things are going happen,” he told the teens, “but you don’t need to suffer forever, and you need not suffer alone.”

Don’t let tragedy define you as a victim, he said, but rather as a survivor – or maybe even a hero.

“You can move forward from something catastrophic that happened but to do that you need to find that connection with people in your life who matter.”

The fourth and final speaker, Spanish teacher January Hladki, took a lighter approach, weaving humor into her narrative of battling generalized anxiety disorder and depression – and the tool she used to escape those feelings: her smartphone.

“I worried about worrying,” she said, adding that she is sure many of her students do the exact same thing. “I was emotionally alone while my face was in my phone.”

By putting her phone down and interacting face to face with her son, her husband, friends and others, she discovered that her life was full of meaningful moments.

And she urged others to do the same.

Why UMatter

Wednesday marked the midpoint of Seaholm’s first-ever UMatter Week, a student-led, staff-guided initiative seeking to empower teens struggling with isolation and reassure them that there is strength in seeking help.

At the start of the school year, students and staff met with Friendship Circle representatives, who helped the teens tailor the program for Seaholm’s student community, said Molly Williams, teen coordinator and UMatter facilitator at Friendship Circle.

Wednesday’s Teacher TEDTalks were just one component of the campaign. Students also decorated the halls with inspirational messages. Each day, there are events and workshops aimed at equipping teens with the tools they need to help themselves – and their peers. In addition, some students have participated in SAFETalk training, while others will share their stories through teen-led panels and lead freshman-focused initiatives.

Sophia Hewitt next to the mural she created for the Black Student Union.

The teachers and staff at Seaholm said students have really embraced UMatter Week.

“I had a student come to me after the first assembly and tell me this week has really changed her,” said Sherree Wilson, Seaholm’s crisis intervention counselor. “I think this is very good for a school like Seaholm, where there’s such a push for perfection. Students here [and elsewhere] are carrying around a lot.”

To learn more about UMatter, CLICK HERE.

Soul Stories: Fabian Israel

With each stroke of a paintbrush, Soul Studio artist Fabian Israel deliberately crafts his next piece of art. The ability to create something new gives him a feeling of excitement unlike anything else. Whether it’s a portrait, a landscape, or even a safety sign, Fabian’s artwork represents what he’s feeling and helps him communicate those feelings. In a sense, each piece of Fabian’s art is an expression of himself.

“His artwork is a picture in his mind that has given him pleasure, usually at that moment, and that’s usually how he describes it to us,” says Lori Burkhardt, one of Fabian’s teachers with the Novi Adult Transition Center, a program of the Novi Community School District. “With autism there’s always that sensory piece. For him, the movement of the paintbrush, the movement of the pencil on paper, is very soothing to him. It goes straight to his soul.”

The 6’4” gentle giant also has a remarkable ability to duplicate an image that’s in front of him. During one recent painting session, Fabian hand sketched and reproduced a portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr. on canvas with stunning accuracy. The civil rights leader is seen sitting in front of an American flag with vibrant hues of red, white and blue. Fabian’s artwork captures shading, dimension, and intricate details.

“I like to paint landscapes and cities. I like to paint some cars,” he says. “It makes me happy.”

Fabian first discovered his talent for art in middle school. The 23 year-old from Novi is hard at work at Soul Studio multiple days a week. If it were up to Fabian, he’d be there all day, every day. In addition to painting, he also loves drawing, ceramics and weaving.

One particular project focuses on kitchen safety. Fabian made a series of drawings detailing what people should do stay safe. The mural includes an image of a toaster, fork, knife and spoon with the message “no utensils in toaster.” It was an idea Fabian came up with himself. His teachers say it was his way of using art in a meaningful way to help others.

“Fabian is a wonderful young man. That is probably the first word everybody uses to describe him,” Burkhardt says. He’s just wonderful, sweet, kind… he has a smile for every moment. Even when things get challenging for him, he’s able to smile about it and move on.”

Fabian’s background is unique. He was born in Glasgow, Scotland and has lived in a variety of different places with his parents Josephine and Albert Israel and his sister, Irene. He can speak some foreign languages. And Fabian’s creativity extends to the kitchen. He loves to cook and has the recipe for orange chicken memorized right down to the sauce.

“One cup of orange juice, one half cup of brown sugar, one tablespoon of white sugar and one tablespoon of honey,” he says, without looking at the recipe. “Then add sesame oil and some chili paste.”

Fabian hopes to make a career out of his artwork. When asked how he would feel if he sold a painting, he says simply, “I will feel happy, proud, and excited.”

His teachers say Soul Studio is the place that gives him the most joy. Having the opportunity to express himself through art has not only had a positive impact on Fabian’s life, but on those around him.

“That’s the most positive way he looks at art,” Burkardt says. “Not only is it filling his soul, but we’re taking it as our soul-filling moment also.”

Reunited! Friendship Circle Volunteers and Participants Reconnect

Friendship Circle family ties transcend time and place, which made Sunday, January 14 all the more meaningful for the volunteers – past and present – and program participants who attended our first ever Volunteer Throwback Experience reunion.

From 5:30-7 p.m., volunteers and participants filled the Meer Family Friendship Center in West Bloomfield, where they enjoyed some friendly competition on the gym’s basketball court, and talked about days gone by, current pursuits and dreams for the future.

Since the Friendship Circle’s inception in 1994, scores and scores of volunteers have donated their time and talents to better the lives of others. But Sunday night’s reunion was a first.

“We recognized that there are a lot of former volunteers who have moved back to the community after college and work as professionals in the community,” says Jamie Reedholm, special projects coordinator. “We thought it would be fun for them to come back to Friendship Circle to see old friends, soak up some of the Friendship Circle magic, and get involved once again.”

Friendship Circle has volunteer opportunities for adults, college students and teens. Click HERE to learn more or become a volunteer.

Throw And Share

In the gym, beloved former volunteer coaches Mike Barnett and Brad Steel kicked off the fun with some warmup stretches before assembling the group in a circle for a throw-and-share exercise to break the ice.

A bright red ball was tossed to each person, who was asked to share his or her name, favorite color and favorite winter activity.

When the ball landed in Sam Morris’ hands, he delighted the crowd by saying, “My favorite winter activity is using the heater.”

The volunteers and participants then broke off into small groups for some one-on-one time before regrouping for a quick game of basketball.

For former volunteer Chaya Rubin, the evening was truly a family affair.

Rubin was among the Friendship Circle’s first volunteers. She brought her children — Moslet, 8, and Malky, 5 – to witness part of their mother’s history and see firsthand how much the Friendship Circle family has grown.

“I’ve kept in touch with Bassie over the years,” she says. And while much has changed since her volunteer days, the spirit of Friendship Circle remains the same.

Bassie Shemtov, Friendship Circle’s director and co-founder, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s amazing,” she says. “Moments like this stir inside what you thought was gone.”
That same vibrant, loving energy and excitement that flowed from these volunteers many years ago filled the center once again Sunday night, Shemtov said.

The evening brought back fond memories for Emily Hersch, who volunteered at Friendship Circle from 2007 to 2013.

It felt good to be back, she says, adding: “I really enjoyed my time here and learning from others and the uniqueness they have to offer.”

As the evening wound down, Coach Brad admitted he was a bit surprised that each participant remembered his name after all these years.

“I was amazed,” says Steel, who volunteered from 2005 to 2011. “I haven’t seen these kids in so long. It’s like zero time has passed.”

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.”

Wings check

Score!! Detroit Red Wings Visit Dresner Foundation Soul Studio

Soul Studio artist Adam Egrin arrived early.

The 23-year-old hockey fan from Southfield could hardly wait for three Detroit Red Wings to arrive Wednesday for a whirlwind tour of the Dresner Foundation Soul Studio, that included breakfast with artists, a hands-on art project and the presentation of a $3,500 donation to the Friendship Circle.

The visit started off in the center’s Soul Café, where Adam and two other artists – Jordan Hartz, 26, of Grand Rapids and Nick Gammisshia, 26, of Shelby Township – dined with Wings defensemen Ryan Sproul and Nick Jensen and forward Anthony Mantha. As the group savored Soul Café fare, the artists showed off their work — and, of course, talked hockey.

“My favorite thing to do is scream at the goalie,” Adam told the Wings, before showing off his latest piece of artwork – Rock-Tart, a fully functional guitar bedecked with tons of tiny beads.

Friendship Circle director Bassie Shemtov held up Jordan’s India ink portrait of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, for the table to see.

“Rebbe is the one who taught us about a soul,” she explained.

Before heading to the studio, the Wings players hopped behind the café counter for an up-close view of the baristas hard at work. David Kole, 23, a barista-in-training from West Bloomfield, whipped up come coffee for the players. To show their appreciation for his superb service, the Wings gave David an autographed flag, which he held up proudly for all to see.

The highlight of the tour came when Sproul, Mantha and Jensen entered the studio.

There, they were greeted by artist Mackenzie (Macko) Matlen, who handed the men a Red Wings pillow she made by hand.

“I made it for them yesterday,” Macko said, adding that while she likes all the Wings players, defenseman Danny DeKeyser is her favorite.

“I’m a big fan,” she said with a grin that lit up the room.

The players went from station to station, talking with the studio volunteers and the artists who were busy crafting their latest projects, before stopping at a table where artist Jordan was waiting to put these players to work. After demonstrating his ink artwork, each player was given a piece of paper, a sponge and some ink. They put ink to paper and signed each piece, to which Jordan will add his illustrative vision.

Once the tour ended, the group gathered in the gallery where the players presented Shemtov with a Red Wings jersey, emblazoned with the words Friendship Circle. The Red Wings organization and ITC presented Shemtov with a ceremonial check for $3,500, which Friendship Circle says will be used to buy new hockey equipment and other gear for the Meer Center activity wing.

Surrounded by an array of awe-inspiring art, the Wings were visibly moved.

“It’s eye-opening,” Mantha said of the artists’ amazing work. “They do a great job. I could never do any of these things on the wall.”

JOIN US this Thurs., September 14 from 6-8pm for our newest exhibition, In a Groove. Our address is: 5586 Drake Rd, West Bloomfield, MI 48322