Our House Meriden is a newly founded nonprofit 501c3 organization located at the childhood home of the founder, Catherine Del Buono. The house had been donated to Mt. Carmel Church 20 years ago. And in a complete surprise, the church gave the house back to the Del Buono family last summer. This unexpected act inspired Ms. Del Buono to use the house to give back to the community, her old neighborhood. As an artist and community organizer, the idea of a free after-school arts program and Community Garden came to be.
Our mission is to provide free after-school arts classes for children of Meriden. As the city budget gets cut, art is one of the first thing to be affected and our program will fill that void. Studies show that children who have access to art and after-school programs benefit from a boost in academic performance, reduction in risky behaviors, and promotion of better physical health. After-school programs also provide a safe environment for many working parents, whose children would otherwise have to fend for themselves for a three-hour gap —or longer. The Our House Meriden program can fill that time with creativity, whether through gardening or arts and crafts.
The children we serve are found in conjunction with local schools who give recommendations regarding which kids would most benefit from the free program. John Barry Elementary School is providing students for Phase One which began this September. Our experienced art teachers provide a variety of classes, which include Collage and Mindfulness, Water Color, and Intro to Art. We will then expand the classes and class sizes in later phases. Our board, experienced arts teachers, and garden experts believe in the mission and will help improve our community by starting with our kids.
We have received grants, donations, and support from local businesses, the city of Meriden, and individuals. This generosity allows us to keep the classes and the garden free for all.