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Art Therapy Helps Transform Lives Of Local Veterans In Charm City

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's a unique program designed to help local veterans and others, and it's happening in South Baltimore.

Ron Matz has more on how art therapy is helping some men transform their lives in Charm City.

Mark Jones used to do heroin. But through his artwork he is finding his way.

"It  helps me express myself," Jones said. "I just love doing art. It gives me a sense of serenity. It puts my mind at ease."

Jones is one of the 90 residents at the Baltimore Station, a place where veterans and the homeless can live up to two years.

"The Baltimore Station is a therapeutic residential community for homeless men, primarily veterans of the armed services, who are suffering from addictions and other mental health issues," said Michael Seipp, Baltimore Station executive director.

Seipp says the 90-bed  South Baltimore location has been filled for the last year and a half. The organization also has a West Baltimore location with 46 beds.

"We find some veterans self medicating," Seipp said. "Using alcohol or prescription drugs or other street drugs and then their life begins to fall apart, and that's when we find them on the street sort of trying to cope with reality, and we bring them in here and give them the opportunity to make the changes they need to make."

Jones has seized that opportunity with his talent. Other residents have turned to art, too. It's a unique therapy for those in transition.

"They teach us about life skills at the Baltimore Station," Jones said. "About living without the use of drugs. It's been wonderful ever since I've been here. The whole staff here is brilliant."

It is a new reality for veterans, too.

"The art therapy is very successful,"  Seipp said. "It's really expressing themselves about what they're dealing with. We're excited about it."

Jones says he expects to be here another year with the help of his artwork to turn his life around.

"They can stay here for up to two years to work on putting their life back together again, and then hopefully at some point during that period they graduate and become productive members of our society again,"  Seipp said.

"I want to be successful with a nice job and a nice home, an everyday life that a normal person would have," Jones said.

On Nov.15, the Baltimore Station will celebrate with its 5th annual "Re-Start With Art." The art auction and Veterans Day reception will be held at The Church of the Redeemer on North Charles Street.

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