“Painting is soothing, it’s calming, I just go with the flow,” Farrah Bourguignon stated, as she painted her pot at the Malden Teen Enrichment Center (MTEC). 

On April 3, 2024, Jay Justin Ortiz and Jacob Mullin-Bernstein hosted a Paint Day at MTEC where kids could come in and paint pots for the children at Cheverus School. “We bought over 20 planting pots. They're going to be going to Cheverus and we're going to be giving them out to some of the kids there. They're going to add some seeds, put in some dirt, and they're going to plant their own flowers,” Ortiz explained.

All of the supplies provided HASET TESFAW

Their main goal is to showcase what MTEC is so that when the students attending Cheverus graduate and eventually become freshmen in high school, they’ll know that the Malden Teen Center is always open for them. “We want to make sure that every day the kids have some sort of avenue they can go into that allows them to decompress from a long day of school, but also some of our teens are getting into work as well. So if they get out of work and they need a place to just kind of relax, ideally we'd like them to come here rather than be on the street, and as a result, they can work into whatever avenue they need to,” Ortiz continued.

The students had loads of fun painting their pots and creating their designs. “I don’t paint that often, but when I do it’s always fun,” said Kimberlee Smith, a Junior at Malden High School.

“We like to do events like that with the schools, Cheverus is a big part of the community as we are. It's nice to be able to interact with other programs that are in the city,” Bernstein stated. “I always look forward to working with the younger kids.”

Everyone who was helping paint the pots was glad they were helping benefit young children. “I’m happy to see this going to a good cause. We’re painting with love,” Bourguignon said.

Bourguignon and her friend painting a pot. HASET TESFAW

It was important to Ortiz and Bernstein that the kids were able to express themselves through art. “We try our best to make sure that kids have some sort of avenue to express something artistic, whether that be painting, drawing, coloring, or anything musically as well. But this being something that's very consistent has been a way to allow the kids to essentially express themselves nicely and easily,” Ortiz stated.

“I really like painting, I’ve been painting ever since I was a kid,” Jason Juan said.

MTEC has many plans for art-related programs in the future. “I'm going to start up like a comic book program. I would like to get character designs going, concept art going, and then just essentially a little avenue for kids who like let's say don't want to paint and they'd rather like put a pen or a pencil to paper, they can do something like that,” Ortiz said. 

Ortiz explained how he knows some kids who like Dungeons and Dragons, a game that allows every player to have their own character set up in a very intricate way. “If the kids wanted to make those characters come to life, they can essentially take this program and make their own characters. That way they have a visual aid for those,”

Bernstein expressed how satisfied he was with the turnout. “I know that almost every pot that we have now has a design on it. So we hit our mark, which is good, but we could always have more kids. I mean you can always always have more, right? There could have been 40 kids and I'd still say we could have more. But as long as the 7-10 kids who did take part in it had a good time and got something out of it, that's all that matters.”

“Kids were in there having conversations about all types of stuff, laughing, and just having a good time. I’m always big on being able to have fun,” Bernstein finished. 

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