Welcome to Lauren’s Blog ~

Hi everyone! Thanks for checking out our web site. My name is Lauren Rittenhouse, I am 35 years old, + I am the Ambassador of ProjectFREE . I would like to tell you about our new program called ProjectFREE!
I am in the Artisan + Epic Fitness program at ProjectFREE. For the 1st time in my life, I am working with real artist + I am learning my trade. We have killer artist who are our art instructor’s. We have a kiln for glass and pottery. We work with clay + wood. I also create colorful amazing pictures. We learn how to build projects. We are going to learn how to use a silk screen machine to make products for businesses. We are always learning something new. . When our art work is finished, our pieces are put in the gallery to sell. ProjectFREE is teaching all of us how to talk to customers + tell them our story about each piece of art we made + what inspired us.

We are learning how to market our business + what steps we must take to make it successful. We learn how to promote our events. We make all of our own posters and flyers at the gallery. At art shows we pass out our flyers + let everyone know about our up + coming shows I am learning how to run our gallery, learning how to checkout art that has been sold. We have a lot of opportunities to sell our art. We all take turns to work the Art Walks + 1st Friday events held in Gulfport every month. It’s so much fun talking to customers. They love what we do. I have sold many of my art pieces. I am doing pretty good actually! Another great thing about ProjectFREE gallery is that we work side by side with amazing artist + all of our art is hung together in the gallery. They are all great + fun, but what’s more important than that, I feel they really respect us, just like we look up to them + respect them to. I feel that we are equals. In the summer we ran Camp Epic. It was an art + exercise camp!

We have a great personal trainer, + nutritionist + his name is John. This is the 1st time I was in a program that we all had a personal trainer. With John’s help I have been working on self-improvement + how to live a healthy life. What is really great is that now, ProjectFREE offers health + fitness year round. Health + Fitness classes have become an important part of our program. We now offer art classes year round! We now opened RisingSTARZ Theatre Group. Love it! We have the best musical director, Leslie + her production staff Rose + George. We have scripts,+ dance moves. It’s a blast! We practice 2 days a week. We practice to live music, it makes you feel that you are really apart of the show. Our play is “Mamma Mia” We all just love the music. We have 22 actors in the show. What’s really great – there is no charge to join our theatre group! It’s free! Please check our web site for out opening night. You all must come – you will all love the show!

The new exciting news for ProjectFREE is that we now have our agency license! We are opening up a lot of new programs + more people can go!

In the 14 years since I was out of High School, I have been in many programs, art programs, and life skills programs. I really loved some of my teacher + other teachers seemed not to care. I don’t care how old we were, we were always treated like children. That’s how we were seen. It was almost impossible to have them really listen to what our point of view is. The programs were very boring. We were always doing the same thing. We never really learned anything new. It was things we learned in school – same work sheets over + over again. The same kid computer games over + over. The same job skills class over + over. Living skills classes. The art classes were not great. We made the same holiday cards + the same arts + crafts – we never really learned anything new.

My life is very exciting now + I feel very good about were my life is going. I’m learning + growing. I am earning an income doing something I love. I meet new people every week, I made new friends here, + participate in Special Olympics. I have a great social life, my uncle Tony take me to see all the local bands. Sometimes I get to go on stage + perform with them! I am a musician.

I feel what I have to say is important + the work I do is important. Life is not really easy for people who are different. ProjectFREE has given me the life I always wanted.

The only thing I still want to do is get a tattoo – but my mom is not liking that!
Hope to see all of you at our production of “Mamma Mia”. If you have any questions about our programs please call our office or email us. We would love to hear from you!
Lauren

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