SOUTHINGTON – With extra time on her hands, 17 year-old Stephanie Wills decided to help bring the outdoors to those shut in through painting.
She completed more than 20 paintings and delivered them to Mulberry Gardens on Sunday. The facility offers assisted living and memory care.
“I wanted to do something to help the people who can’t see their family members and who can’t go outside as much,” she said. “Bring the outside to them.”
Wills celebrated her birthday on Wednesday and used some of her birthday money to order more paints and supplies. She’s always enjoyed painting but got more proficient after taking a class.
She’s a student at St. Paul’s High School in Bristol. Online classes take up about half the day, she said, leaving more time than usual for painting. Stephanie had been painting to “pass the time” during the shutdown but wanted to benefit people with her art.
Donna Johnson, activities director at Mulberry Gardens, said the nature scenes allowed residents to reminisce, adding the vibrant colors “brightened their day.”
“They loved them. It reminded them of going to the beach,” she said. “By looking at these paintings, you get a smile on your face.”
Johnson was impressed at Stephanie’s talent. The paintings will be displayed in the lobby.
Kerry Wills, Stephanie’s dad, said the family started making cards for nursing home residents. Stephanie started painting pictures as a child but said she’s learned a lot through the recent high school class.
“I’ve always enjoyed painting,” she said. “I usually paint nature, landscapes, animals.”
On Sunday, the family dropped off the paintings at the front desk of Mulberry Gardens, 58 Mulberry St. As with other nursing facilities, visitors are not allowed into the home, including family and friends.
Kerry Wills said the nurses were appreciative of the gift but that since they can’t go in, they weren’t able to see the paintings displayed.
“(Residents) loved them and enjoyed them,” he said nurses told them.
Kerry Wills is proud of his daughter’s work.
“I thought it was a great idea,” he said.
Stephanie is now doing more paintings after friends and family saw what she created for nursing home residents. They want similar paintings too, she said.