Hoosick counselor finds creative way to thank frontline workers

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HOOSICK, N.Y. — During the time of the COVID-19 outbreak, many local communities are trying to find ways to thank and honor frontline workers, like doctors, nurses and first responders.

Eileen Druckenmiller, a counselor at Hoosick Falls Central School who is also an art therapist, wanted to do something — and get the school community involved.

She received more than 60 pieces of artwork, most from the Hoosick school community, and put them together into a four-minute video that she complied and put on YouTube.

The video is titled "Lending a Hand to Frontline Responders" and the only pre-requisite was that each art piece depicted a helping hand and thanked those on the front line of the pandemic.

"I was looking for something that anyone could contribute," Druckenmiller said. "I liked the metaphor of the helping hands and it was something that everyone could work on together."

Druckenmiller put out word at Hoosick Falls Central School and on social media, asking for the artistic contributions of staff, students, and their families and friends. Many teachers encouraged their students to complete a piece as part of their online learning.

Druckenmiller also encouraged all to share the idea by reaching out to extended family members, their friends, and fellow community members.

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"Some of the teachers, especially in the elementary, made it a part of their remote learning. They were really excited about it and without their support, I don't think I would have got as many as I did," she said.

Druckenmiller, along with being a counselor at the school, has a master's degree in art therapy.

"As an art therapist, I know the power a visual image can foster for both the creator and, in this case, the recipients. We know that creating artwork stimulates parts of the brain that foster feelings of calm and empowerment. When we share a collection of those images, we are able to showcase a community's strength and unity. I felt this idea was a great way to bring us all together for a common message of thanks," Druckenmiller said.

Druckenmiller's husband, John, is a helicopter pilot for LifeNet, a medical transport service. So she is familiar with the work of the frontline response.

"They've sent helicopters to [Kennedy Airport in] New York City. There's a lot of people in those roles. Many people want to offer support and this was a way to contribute, while also staying at home," she said.

Druckenmiller hopes that people viewing the video will share it with those they know who are hard at work.

"While I am reaching out to local organizations, I encourage everyone viewing the video to share it with any person or organization they know of that are helping to keep us safe and taken care of during COVID-19," she said. "It was truly a pleasure to view each piece as they came back to me. Every single one is unique and, when put together, they simultaneously promote both our diversity and our unity."


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