Community Service

While it is really, really, REALLY hard for any one of us to change the world’s big picture, we each certainly can make the world a little bit of a better place through community service and doing work which helps others – and at the same time, make new friends, learn a lot, and feel more a part of the community.  My community service and volunteer work ranges from creativity therapy to pet therapy to creating and donating artwork to nonprofits.    “Creativity Central” is my official blog for my community service, which currently includes a series of classes in which I work with seriously ill patients and their families.  At our monthly Creativity Central sessions, held at a Community Memorial Hospital,  I work with patients and their families, sharing with them creativity in all its forms – art, handicrafts, writing, music. The Creativity Central classes are a colorful exploration of the creative spirit that lies within within each of us. You will also find some fun blog posts here of this creativity therapy work as part of the ground-breaking collaboration among the Cancer Support Community, Landon Pediatric Foundation, Ventura County Medical Center’s Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, St. John’s Cancer Center, The Teddy Bear Foundation, American Cancer Society and CMH Cancer Resource Center.

May Mosaic Madness at Creativity Central!

Artimagination : June 3, 2014 9:07 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

At our May Creativity Central session, our creative group created lovely mosaics out of paper. In addition to tissue paper and basic kid grade construction paper, for the mosaics we also used a little left over holiday wrapping paper. We think that there is no paper that you can’t use for this! The first step for the mosaics was for each member of the group to cut out 8″x10″ rectangle of light weight cardboard. Nicole then sketched onto the cardboard whatever the Creativity Central member wanted on their cardboard – so one person chose a sea horse, one person chose a hummingbird, one person chose Nicole’s pet bird, and one person chose a cat face that was also a sun! After that, every one tore or cut different colors and textures of papers into little irregular shaped pieces and started the process of gluing on the paper chips using Elmer’s glue sticks. Here are some photos from the May session. Note: The paper mosaic projects will be continued into the next session, but the hours flew by! No one could believe it was time to leave!

The start of a paper mosaic – this Creativity Central member
asked Nicole to sketch Nicole’s bird.


Close up of the many different sizes of paper (and part of Caroline’s Sun Cat project)


Carol’s amazing hummingbird project.


Here is the bird project a little further along.


How Allyson’s sea horse project started


Allyson’s wonderful sea horse project further along
Another look at Caroline’s Sun Cat project – it will be great
when all the colors are in!
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April Creativity Central brings Colorful Creations!

Artimagination : May 3, 2014 9:01 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

At our April Creativity Central session, our creative group added color to the sculptures we had created in the March session.You will see there is no shortage of creativity in this group!   Here are some photos from both the April session:

Coloring in the lovely sculptures from our March Creativity Central


A closeup of Allyson’s super creative raincloud with rain drops


Some of the colorful sculptures the class made
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February Creativity Central has us making Garden-themed Sculptures!

Artimagination : February 26, 2014 11:50 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

At our February Creativity Central we had great conversation and crafted sculptural masterpieces having a gardening theme – we made everything from flying hearts, a humorous worm in an apple and a happy ant, to a perfect garden pixie and calla lily, to vines, grapes, butterflies and much more!  See the pictures below to get a hint of our sculptural fun!

Aida adding the finishing touches to her PERFECT grapes

Aida’s grapes – so PRETTY!

Allyson working on her vine

Carol’s PERFECT garden pixie!

Another Carol masterpiece – her Calla Lily

Carol sharing her Calla Lily techniques

Carol crafting her Calla Lily

Allyson’s Vine – will there be a Jack and a Beanstalk?

Everyone hard at work!

So much focus!

-But time to share smiles too!

-and good conversation

The results!

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Bra Fundraising Fun at January’s Creativity Central

Artimagination : February 17, 2014 11:18 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work, Nicole's News Hot Sheet

It’s that time of year again – when our fearlessly creative Creativity Central team makes bras to be auctioned off at the Gala to help support women who cannot afford their cancer-related medical services.  While last year’s bras were hard to beat, this year we made bras every bit as special as last year.  Everyone brought special supplies – you will see in the pictures below not only the beautiful bras we made, but also the many smiles and loads of creative supplies – such FUN!

Allyson working on her Leather and Lace bra

Carol and her excellent glue gun technique

Carol sharing one of her lovely creations – lots of BLING!

Carol, Sherri and Valerie holding up their favorite bra that they made 
Such a PRETTY bra!  Very Spring!
Closeup of the detail in this pretty bra!
Valerie’s hearts and bling bra – FUN!
The Flapper bra!
Country Girl bra

Another flowery feminine creation!

The whole effect of this GREAT bra!  So pretty!
Valerie hard at work
Everyone holding up their favorite creation

Such an assortment!  
Look at the PILE of supplies in front of Valerie!

Leather and Lace bra!  Too COOL!

Everyone hard at work!

Closeup showing some of the variety of bras we made

Everyone loved this bra!

Look at the heaps of bras waiting to be decorated!

Fun safari bra – look at the MINK hoops at the top!

Sherri hard at work making her Lavendar bra – with homegrown lavendar!

Sherri’s great lavendar bra!  So creative!

A pretty smile and the perfect feminine bra for a cancer fundraiser!

Another pretty bra!

Sharing smiles!

Valerie’s smile is brighter than the BLING on her bra – way to go Valerie!

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We had a jewel of a time December 2013 making “Dutch Diamonds!”

Artimagination : January 27, 2014 10:02 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

We had a jewel of a time at Nicole’s December 2013 Creativity Central making “Dutch Diamonds!”  Here are some pictures of our fun Creativity Central:

Sherri and her ‘gems’!

Allyson sharing her Dutch Diamonds and a cheery smile

Another of our talented ‘Jewelers’ shares her creations
Our Collection of Dutch Diamonds
Closeup of a “Dutch Diamond.”
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October & November Creativity Central set the table for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Artimagination : November 13, 2013 5:45 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

At the October Creativity Central and at the November Creativity Central we made table decorations for Thanksgiving, and we had a great time! Here are some photos from these two extra special Creativity Central sessions:
We created placemats during our October Creativity Central – and here are a few photos of the fun!

Allyson’s BEAUTIFUL autumn tree in progress – look at the gorgeous blending of color!

Allyson hard at work – love her choice of colors and blending technique!

Sherry’s mat, with three cats, a butterfly and a very creative ladybug made from a colored button!  GREAT job Sherry!

Everybody focused!

Allyson sharing her beautiful placemat


Sherry and Allyson sharing their beautiful creations

At our November Creativity Central we made Thanksgiving Wreaths for table or wall display – and the results are gorgeous!  It is always amazing how we each start out with the same supplies but the results are so varied, each beautiful in its own way.  GREAT work Creativity Central team!  Here are a few photos of our work:

Our Creativity Central Olympic Rings of Creativity

Carol hard at work

Everybody focused!


Happy chatty moments

and cozy creative time

Tina carefully making her BEAUTIFUL wreath

Allyson selecting the next pipecleaner for her FUN wreath.  
Closeup of the pipecleaners on Allyson’s wreath – not only fun but they add GREAT color balance!

Closeup of Sherry’s BEAUTIFUL wreath – LOVE IT!

Tina’s wreath has SUPER FUN swirls and dots and colors
Tina and her FAB wreath

Sherry and her GORGEOUS creation

Allyson and her FUN, COLORFUL wreath

Carol and her PERFECT wreath laden with perfect red felt berries, leaves of all shapes, and great color combos

-and while the Creativity Central team made it’s wreaths, Nicole’s husband made a VERY creative dinner!

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September Creativity Central ROCKS!

Artimagination : October 8, 2013 9:03 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work, Nicole's News Hot Sheet

At our September Creativity Central we had a fun musical treat – live rock ‘n roll music generously and superbly performed by Kenneth G. Halverson Jr.  That means we got to jam as we created to some great music – some of it original music written and sung by Kenneth Halverson, and some if it favorites that Kenneth Halverson gave great performances of.  AWESOME!  At the same time, we worked on some creativity – we made a gift kite as a group and we made some very fun yarn ‘pom pom’ critters.  Enjoy the pictures of this very special Creativity Central session:

The super cool Kenneth G. Halverson Jr. gives Creativity Central a GREAT Rock ‘n Roll Jam Session! 
Hello! I am a Pom-Pom Critter made at Creativity Central!

Allyson at the glue gun while Kenneth Halverson Jr. Rocks!
Allyson sharing her one-of-a-kind Halloween Owl
Carol working on the gift kite, using Joanie’s favorite colors
Allyson and Carol and the Creativity Central Critters!
The Creativity Central Critters!
Carol sharing Joanie’s gift kite
Allyson working on the gift kite, using Joanie’s favorite colors
Close-up of Allyson’s Halloween Owl
Take me Home!

We can’t thank Kenneth enough for the FUN Rock ‘n Roll Night!
Carol’s AWESOME Halloween bat!

The Gift Kite on the Wall with a little note by Creativity Central

Closeup of the finished Gift Kite and Card.
The Creativity Central team creates while Kenneth Halverson gives us a GREAT concert!

Bye for Now!

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Recent Creativity Central Sessions create Fun and Beauty!

Artimagination : August 7, 2013 9:53 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work

Give our talented Creativity Central group a stack of papers, a glue gun, some flower wire and a few beads and colored markers and you will get… ROSES!  Here are some photos from this wonderful April 2013 Creativity Central:

Hard at Work
Sherry and Allyson creating lovely roses
Allyson putting the finishing touches on her rose
A pretty rose for a pretty lady

Sherry adding a floral wire stem to her rose
Some of the finished roses – they don’t look like paper, do they?

Our May Creativity Central started with these lovely yarns donated by CMH Cancer Center plus a few scissors, wooden dowels, and loads of independent thinking::

The Supplies

The Results were AMAZING:

The May Creativity Central Team – Guess Who!

That’s Who!

Here are some fun photos from our May Creativity Central:

Close up of Allyson’s imaginative take on the project

Close up of Jay’s cosy sentiment

In addition, in the last July Creativity Central session, we painted! Beautiful projects created by beautiful people!

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March Creativity Central visits Outer Space!

Artimagination : April 3, 2013 5:32 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work, Nicole's News Hot Sheet

Our March 26 Creativity Central was truly a blast from outer space, as we created clay objects for our space themed project!  Here are some photos of our fun evening, ENJOY!

Little Green Man and his Alien Friends!

One of the planetary creations by the Creativity Central team!

Little Purple Alien, wearing a necktie - one of the great cosmic creations by the Creativity Central team!

A World of Cosmic Creativity!

Rocket Ship ready for its mission through space!

To see more pictures, please visit the official Creativity Central website.

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Creativity Central has been busy “busting” loose for fundraising for breast cancer!

Artimagination : February 2, 2013 10:22 pm : Community Service & Volunteer Work, Nicole's News Hot Sheet

January 2013 Creativity Central was full of fundraising creativity – we created bras for the silent auction and center pieces for the upcoming gala, called the CMH Gold Dust Gala, on March 23rd 2013, that raises funds for uninsured and under-insured women that need mammograms or suffer from breast cancer/need surgical treatment. At the end of the evening, the bras which serve as centerpieces, are auctioned off to the highest bidder, and the most outrageous bras often get the highest prices! Everyone brought some sort of extra special goodies to use on the bras – even ornamentation from the Zigfield Follies thanks to Allyson! We also used paints and supplies donated by CMH and the iLovetoCreate folks. Never was doing work for such a good cause so fun! Enjoy these photos of our fantastically creative Creativity Central team – you are sure to smile and admire their fearless creativity!

UPDATE: Just know we were every bit as creative for the October and November Creativity Central – we’ve just been too busy DOING to post! HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Creativity Central classes, designed and led by internationally licensed artist and author M. Nicole van Dam, help patients and their families share the joy of living in the creative moment.

If you or someone in your family suffers from a serious illness, such as cancer, please join us for this creative adventure! Our currently scheduled upcoming classes are:

•Tuesday July 30, 6-8pm

•Tuesday August 27, 6-8pm

•Tuesday September 24, 6-8pm

•Tuesday October 22, 6-8pm

Please contact The Cancer Resource Center of Community Memorial Hospital at (805)652-5459 to learn more about the current series of creativity and expression classes.


Below is a screen show sharing some additional posts on a variety of things that might interest you – you can click on whichever post interests you to read the full post – ENJOY!


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