On August 11th, 2013 my life and the lives of so many others were turned completely upside down. Andrea Barringer, our friend, our light, our love, our sister, our confidante, our soulmate, our compass, was killed while crossing the street in a hit-and-run accident. The ground beneath my feet was gone, and somehow gravity managed to multiply exponentially.
Our lives were JUST starting to write a new chapter together. Only one week before, I proposed to Andrea and we were engaged. We'd been together for about 8 years before that, so we were already writing a lot of chapters of our lives together, but this new chapter had a bit more significance to it. She was also finishing up her first year of graduate school in Art Therapy, and she was looking forward to the ways she could use the power of art, her artisitic talents, and her supreme emotional insight and instincts to help others heal and help them find and use their own powers. Over those eight years, she taught me so much, about life, about myself, about change, about the power of humor, about the power of listening, and about the power of giving. I would only be a sliver of the person I am today, if she never came into my life. And I know a lot of other people this also true for. She had a profound knack for seeing into people and knowing who they were (even if they themselves didn't realize it yet) and what they needed. Losing her was and continues to be an indescribable loss. A fundamental piece of myself was ripped out of my body and soul on that day. It's taken a lot of work over the years to deal with that loss, aided in no small part by everyone else whose lives she touched, but I've learned to turn some of that emptiness inside out by appreciating and fucusing on not the loss, but the gift and privelege of what we all were given by getting to have her in our lives. She was a force. She was a gift.
In honor of that gift, I along with Andrea's brother and mother set up and established The Andrea Barringer Art Therapy Graduate Program Fund. The fund is set up through Mt. Mary (the school she was attending when she passed) strictly for the Graduate Art Therapy program and goes to one student each semester to use on their practicum site, which is kind of like an art therapy internship. It's a different site each semester, chosen by the student, and the funds can only be used on art supplies for the site. Usually they have very little or no art supplies of any kind and the recipients get much-needed therapy often for the first time. Past sites have been inner city grade schools, Project Q (the Milwaukee LGBT Youth Community Center which was actually Andrea's practicum site), nursing homes, and the most recent site was a facility that serves Native Americans with substance abuse and addiction problems. The art supplies remain at the site even after the student has left, and often they've gotten the ball rolling on therapeutic activities and practices that continue as well. The scholarship is a way for us to help spread Andrea's generosity and compassion around the community like little saplings of positive change and healing. The fund has dwindled over the years, so we're asking for donations to keep it going and keep her positive, healing energy flowing into the community. We are also holding a fundraiser benefit show at High Dive on June 24th with bands perfoming, a silent auction, and possibly some sort of group art project.
Anything you can contribute to this is enthusiastically and humbly appreciated. Please help us keep some of Andrea's momentum going.
- Garrick Karpinski
- Beth Ronk
- Molly Sutton Kiefer
- Brad Vollmer
- Amanda Rochwite
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