Sell­ing sketches for good causes

Woman with autism uses art­work to raise money for va­ri­ety of ef­forts, in­clud­ing hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery

Hartford Courant (Sunday) - - Community - By MARY ELLEN GODIN Record-Jour­nal of Meri­den LEFT:

MERI­DEN — Mor­gan Morenz’s first at­tempt at se­ri­ous draw­ing, a Poke­mon char­ac­ter at age 11, wasn’t as good as she wanted.

But Morenz didn’t get dis­cour­aged, spend­ing her teen years per­fect­ing her sketch­ing.

“Even­tu­ally, I started do­ing more pro­found stuff,” she said.

As a 25-year-old with autism, Morenz uses her art­work to raise money for a va­ri­ety of causes, in­clud­ing hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery. Her lat­est ef­fort helped Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 45 in Meri­den raise money for a me­mo­rial to pris­on­ers of war. She raised $400 of the $1,800 needed.

Morenz said she de­cided to help be­cause she “knows it means some­thing to” the Le­gion, even if she didn’t fully un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of a me­mo­rial to POWs.

“I am close friends with many of the peo­ple at Post 45,” Morenz said. “They are re­ally nice to me.”

Morenz’s fa­ther, also named Mor­gan Morenz, takes her to the club reg­u­larly. She chats with mem­bers and sells her sketches.

“I’m very proud of her,” her fa­ther said.

With some trans­porta­tion help from her men­tor, Mel­lissa By­ron of the Chip­pens Hill Group, Morenz vis­its parks, cof­fee shops and bars in Mid­dle­town and Meri­den sell­ing her sketches. Chip­pens Hill helps peo­ple with autism find vol­un­teer and job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“I am a very spir­i­tual per­son,” Morenz said. “I can’t learn a thing un­less I take it to heart. I am very em­pa­thetic.”

By­ron wants to en­roll Morenz in a com­mu­nity col­lege art class. She first met Morenz at an art show at Klekolo World Cof­fee in Mid­dle­town.

“I am hon­ored to know her,” By­ron said. “Mor­gan is the most em­pa­thetic and com­pas­sion­ate per­son I ever met. I wish more peo­ple were like her.”

Morenz strug­gled to find the right school but fi­nally grad­u­ated from an ACES, Area Co­op­er­a­tive Ed­u­ca­tional Ser­vices.

Af­ter age 21, there is no gov­ern­ment ed­u­ca­tional sup­port for those with autism and the state Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices has a six month wait­ing list for ser­vices. Pri­vate in­sur­ance doesn’t cover pro­grams.

The Chip­pen Hills Group is paid for pri­vately by par­ents and in­di­vid­u­als. As di­ag­noses of autism in­crease, the need for ser­vices is ex­pected to rise. Morenz has strong opin­ions about that.

“There is more and more peo­ple be­ing autis­tic and the state should ac­com­mo­date that,” she said.

By­ron meets with Morenz once a week to get her in­volved in the com­mu­nity. They visit parks, mu­se­ums or places with an­i­mals. Morenz is a cer­ti­fied mas­ter of Reiki — a form of al­ter­na­tive medicine — writes po­ems and de­liv­ered a speech for the Post 45 an­nual Watch Fire in June.

The POW me­mo­rial is ex­pected to ar­rive at the Amer­i­can Le­gion soon, said Don O’Byrne, a mem­ber of the Sons of the Amer­i­can Le­gion.

“For a gifted child, she’s very out­go­ing,” O’Byrne said. “She’s a great artist. When she said she raised $400, we saidw`ow, that’s great.’ We’re go­ing to prob­a­bly wait un­til spring to do a ded­i­ca­tion. She’s go­ing to get recog­ni­tion for help­ing. It’s phe­nom­e­nal.”

DAVE ZAJAC/AP

ABOVE: Self­taught artist Mor­gan Morenz, 25, of Meri­den, shows her sketch of a cock­atiel while at Hux­ley’s Book­mark Cafe in Meri­den. As a 25-year-old with autism, Morenz uses her art­work to raise money for a va­ri­ety of causes, in­clud­ing hur­ri­cane re­cov­ery. Her lat­est ef­fort helped Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 45 in Meri­den raise money for a me­mo­rial to pris­on­ers of war. She raised $400 of the $1,800 needed.Morenz sketches a rab­bit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.