Guest Author: Sandy Romano
I began as a volunteer with Splashes in 2005 painting ceiling tiles and murals and eventually traveling with them to different sites across the country. In 2008 we were working on a project in Albuquerque, New Mexico painting in the pediatric department of a hospital there. On the last day, we held a facepainting gathering for the children who were patients at the hospital. A nurse came out and told me about a little girl who wanted to be painted but since she was about to receive her treatment, she couldn’t come into the lobby where we were set up. So, with the nurse’s permission, I was able to bring my facepaints into her treatment room. This little girl asked me to paint her name surrounded by flowers on her left arm, while a doctor administered some sort of treatment involving needles on her right arm…..which she was now totally ignoring! I’ll always remember her beautiful face as she smiled and talked with me as I painted, totally distracted from what was going on medically, but totally involved in the painting on her arm.
When we returned to Long Island, Heather contacted Stony Brook Hospital and arranged for Splashes to initiate a facepainting program as part of Child Life at their Pediatric Oncology Clinic. I was very very happy to volunteer for this position and have been going there on a weekly basis since it began in February of 2009. With the help of other Splash volunteers, we also facepaint at their yearly Cancer Survivor’s Fair, and the Holiday, Halloween, and Gold parties for these young cancer patients.
Every time I facepaint at the clinic (and I use this term loosely as many times I’m painting hands, arms, necks, and legs as well!), I feel blessed that I am able to share a few moments with these beautiful and amazingly brave children and their families. When I see a child at the clinic for the first time looking nervous and scared, it often takes a bit of friendly cajoling to convince them to approach, usually quite hesitantly. But when they look in the mirror after being painted and I see their face break into a smile, then I know that I’ve made this day just a teeny bit easier for that child. When I've seen a child who has been there many times run the length of the hallway toward me to get their face painted, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to do what I do. It brings joy to my life when I meet children at the clinic who I have been painting for years, some now on the verge of adulthood, and I see that they have fought cancer and won. And yes, there are sad moments too. These children and their families do for me so much more than I do for them. What they deal with on a daily basis truly puts my own life into perspective.
In 2010 the Laurence Levine Foundation very generously began funding this program. With the funds I receive, I have been able to give back to Splashes of Hope by “Splashing it Forward” and using these funds to sponsor various mural projects, including the MUSC Children’s Clinic in Charleston, South Carolina; the pediatric emergency waiting room at Mission St. Joseph Hospital in Asheville, NC; a school for developmentally challenged children in Gulfport, Mississippi; the pediatric radiology hallway at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan; The Spiegel Children’s Center for adults and children with learning disabilities in Bay Shore, as well as several individual murals for the rooms of children fighting cancer.
Thank you to Splashes of Hope for allowing me to be a part of your mission!
xo Sandy Romano
Splashes of Hope
Founded in 1996, Splashes of Hope is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to creating art to transform spaces, enrich environments and facilitate healing.