The Walnut Street Center, based in Union Square, Somerville, MA, is an organization that provides employment and opportunities for creative expression for adults with mental handicaps. The majority of the employment opportunities were, in the past, provided by activities such as envelope stuffing. A useful activity, but certainly not as exciting as, say, screen printing!
Walnut Street Center is lucky to have a great art director named Anyahlee. They are trying to create more great jobs by running a screen printing shop. The activity, while very complex, actually lends itself well to job creation. This is because there are many tasks that go into the creation of a custom screen printed t-shirt, but most of those tasks are relatively simple by itself.
I only happened to meet Anyahlee because my dad ran into her at an art event. We were both getting our shops set-up and it was a great opportunity for me to do some volunteer work that benefitted the Walnut Street Center and also helped me gain experience. I look back fondly on spending full days figuring out various printing techniques with Anyahlee – and all the excitement it caused in the members and other staff. On a couple of occasions I even drove over a medium-sized piece of equipment, a flash-dryer.
I haven’t had a chance to check out the operation recently. When I stopped going over regularly they seemed on the verge of big things and I’m excited to see what they have going on (I’ll update when I find out). But one great result of our relationship is that the Union SQRZ t-shirts are being sold in their gift shop, It’s A Gift, in the heart of Union Square. It’s one of my favorite SQRZ. As much as it hurts to me to say it (because of my futbol loyalty to Argentina), the green letters on really cool distressed yellow tees looks awesome and really fits with the neighborhood!