A drawing activity at the Canandaigua VA is energizing vets at the VA

CANANDAIGUA — It takes just a piece of paper and a marker. Well, maybe two or three markers of different colors, and a caring person or two to help get the ball rolling.

The project is called Zen Doodle. Veterans at the Canandaigua VA Golden Memories Community Living Center are pouring their creative juices into the project. Before Christmas the activity produced such a colorful collection of varied drawings that VA Recreational Therapist Lynsey Buckner and volunteer Lynn Lersch had the pieces made into cards for the vets’ family members.

“They loved them,” said Buckner, who enjoyed introducing the veterans gathered Tuesday for Zen Doodle. The group included Lyle Dupra, Maurice “Buster” Sullivan, Harold Kaufman, Francis Donohue and John Kurtz.

Buckner told how she connected with Lersch to collaborate on the project. Lersch, a longtime VA volunteer, has a talent for art and working with the vets that was perfect for the project, Buckner said.

Community Living Center residents participate in many activities coordinated through recreation therapists and volunteers. The VA encourages activities because they promote good health and veterans enjoy life more when they are physically and socially active. It was clear Tuesday the vets were getting a lot out of being together as well as focusing on their drawings.

Kurtz was particularly talkative, cracking jokes about his “Man fishing” drawing and another picture he had done of a fearsome-looking face with pointed teeth. Kurtz had lost the use of his right hand years ago, and though he was right-handed all his life, now Zen Doodle had him putting his left hand to work for some pretty notable results.

While the Zen Doodle project is technically referred to as “directed drawing” because a paper with dots or other markings is presented as a basis for what the vets want to add, Lersch pointed out how different each drawing turns out to be when finished. She spread out an array of samples, and the selections were as individual as the vets who created them.

Families and friends are as happy with Zen Doodle as the vets, said Buckner: “They can’t thank us enough.”


Want to help?

The VA always welcomes volunteers. Find out more at http://www.canandaigua.va.gov/giving/index.asp