Lawrence Community Shelter buzzes with music, magic and art

Serena Allen’s 3-year-old son Jaxton was all smiles as he ran around outside of the Lawrence Community Shelter playing bucket drums with other children.

“He’s been a real social bug today,” she said.

Allen and her three kids — Jenna, 12, Gracelynn, 7, and Jaxton — having been staying at the shelter for three months. Today the family enjoyed quality time with music, art and a magician provided by the Lawrence Percolator Arts Caravan.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for more.”

That feeling was the goal of having the Arts Caravan at the shelter today, shelter Executive Director Loring Henderson said.

“It’s a break in their lives,” he said. “It really stimulates things.”

Members of the Percolator Arts Caravan, a local art initiative that takes art activities to rural areas, were at the shelter at 3701 Franklin Park Circle from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a bucket drum workshop, paper flower and hat making booths, and a magician. The event was meant to build a sense of community within the shelter, which serves those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to connect it to the greater Lawrence community, Henderson said.

Not only did the event promote art at the shelter, but it also provided a fun activity for shelter members and others in the community, said KT Walsh, a Percolator member. Walsh plans to have shelter residents paint a mural on an interior wall in the coming weeks as well as on a semitrailer behind the shelter.

Art projects aren’t the only things shelter residents can get involved with, Henderson said. The shelter also has a small garden that residents maintain and Good Dog, a project where guests make dog biscuits and other treats.

“A lot of folks here have a lot of talent,” he said. “It’s good to keep up self-esteem, especially with the children.”