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February 2013

Tiffany Thao

Organization / February 27, 2013


Tiffany Thao was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. She is currently attending the Community College of Denver, where she will complete general education credits before attending a bachelors degree program. Tiffany has always had an interest in art and enjoys many creative activities. In addition to her interest in art she is considering studies in a medical profession. Tiffany started volunteering with Healing Arts as a way to explore her passion for art. She enjoys meeting new patients and introducing them to new art projects.

Sunnyside by Mike Adams

Writing / February 27, 2013

BMT patient Mike Adams reads his poem titled Sunnyside about his dear friend Dolores. This poem and others can be found in his book Steel Valley.

Mike had a bone marrow transplant a year ago.  While in the hospital he participated in the healing arts program and would hold poetry readings for the staff. It was a healing experience for the staff and himself.

Mike was the featured poet at a book store in Evergreen, CO a few months after his transplant.

Dolores and I drive the winding blacktop that hugs Cement Creek, sunny May morning, coming down from Gladstone and the Sunnyside Mine – -all abandoned now —  back to Silverton. High above, the sun shines on the slopes of Storm Peak, but we’re at the bottom of the valley, running through a dark boreal forest of spruce and fir.  Dolores points out the grade of the old narrow-gauge railroad — built in the 1880s — that served the mine, closed since the early 1990s, last working silver mine in San Juan County, the rails pulled up years ago, stacked like rusted cordwood at the railroad station in town.  Signs of bygone mining days all around – falling down buildings, wood silvered with age, holes in the hillsides, slate-blue tailing ponds, and after a few moments of silence I say, those rails might have been made where I grew up, Homestead, Andrew Carnegie’s steel works.  Yes they were, Dolores says,  I saw Homestead stamped on the sides of the rails.  And then I see it, you never leave anything behind, you take it all with you, think you’ve left the old mill town, low green hills, the slow brown river, smoke and stink, but it’s all seeped into your pores and still with you right here beside the fast mountain stream and soaring peaks– the mills of Pennsylvania and mines of Colorado, all tangled together.  Carnegie built his mills, fed them with the blood and dreams of  men and women brought by the boatload from Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Italy, Greece, Russia to the hell and hope and struggle of America, a dollar a day, 12 hours, seven days a week, a hundred dollars to the widows when the men died in explosions, cave-ins, fell into vats of molten metal.  He fed it all to the furnaces and mines – ore, coal and men.  Crushed his workers with guns and thugs and mind-numbing labor, made his fortune and built a nation.  Then he gave it all away.

I learned to swim in the basement of the Carnegie Library in Homestead, fed my love of books there, gazed up in awe at the Tyrannosaurus skeleton in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, read there about the Rocky Mountains and dreamed.   Now, all these years later, I find a Carnegie Library in Silverton.

How we are shaped by land and water, the work of a lifetime, nothing ever lost, Cement Creek, the Monongahela River, everything carried along —

Silverton mines quiet, sinking
by slow stages back into the earth,
Homestead mills gone to weeds
and failing memory.

A dilapidated assay office,
beside it, a rusted ore cart –
filled with black soil
and raspberry bushes.

Meet Rose Opp

Organization / February 25, 2013


Rosie Opp is currently studying Communication Design at Metropolitan State University, Denver, CO. Since a child, Rosie has had a great passion for art and design. In fourth grade she won first place in a logo design contest at her elementary school and was featured in the local newspaper. In high school Rosie worked at a print and copy store where she met Cynthia Lockhart. Recently they have worked together on small design projects for the growing healing arts program. Rosie designed the logo for Soul’s Palette Arts and became a board member in 2012.
 Rosie takes pleasure in photography, painting and crafts. She is a Coloradan by birth and by heart and loves spending her time outdoors camping, biking, running and snowboarding with her high school sweetheart.

Meet Millah Nikkel

Organization / February 25, 2013

Millah with ipad case

Millah Nikkel has lived, worked, and volunteered in Denver since 1978. She became involved in healing arts when a friend received a very successful stem cell transplant. Her passion for fiber arts meshed perfectly with the healing arts philosophy. She enjoys introducing patients to new art forms.
Millah has lived in many places around the world while working as an environmental geologist. She received a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and an MS in Geology from the University of Bergen, Norway. She is married and has two daughters currently in college.

Meet Travis Barlock

Organization / February 25, 2013


Travis first began performing magic at age of 14. What began as hobby evolved into a genuine passion of his and a professional hobby. Throughout the early years of his career as an entertainer, Travis performed at carnivals, birthday parties, and corporate events. More recently however, he began performing at a local shelter for “at-risk” youth where he discovered the impact magic could make on people. Pursuing a career in medicine, Travis recently began volunteering on the pediatric floor at P/SL where he performs one-on-one magic shows followed by mini-magic lessons for the children. He loves seeing the looks of wonder and fascination on the children’s faces and enjoys providing an alternative form of entertainment. He currently attends the University of Denver and in his spare time, Travis enjoys playing rugby, reading, watching movies, and playing cards.

Meet Cait Cantrell

Organization / February 24, 2013


Cait Cantrell is a recent 2012 Graduate of Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree with an emphasis in Photography and Video Art. Her experience of dealing with a life altering event and her belief that creating is a therapeutic process generated her decision to pursue a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy.

Cantrell entered the Healing Arts Volunteer Program at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in May of 2012. She chose this volunteer position because of her unique interest in the medical field. After completing an initial 200 hours as a volunteer, Cantrell was accepted into the 2013 Soul’s Palette Arts Internship Program. Here she spends valuable time with bone marrow transplant patients, providing them with creative outlets that support their healing and wellbeing. Her well-rounded education in many artistic practices allows her to connect with her patients on a multitude of different levels. By visiting these patients often, listening to them, and bringing new ideas and materials, she reinforces art as a positive coping tool. Within the next six months, she will gain experience in the Pediatric and Antepartum Units to complete her internship. She truly enjoys working in cancer care and looks forward to becoming a Board Certified Art Therapist after completing her graduate degree program.

Meet Jillian Popp

Organization / February 24, 2013


Jillian Popp graduated from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design (RMCAD), April 2012 and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her art training and skills include extensive knowledge of painting and drawing mediums, photography, sculpture, and performance art.

Her interest in becoming an art therapist was greatly influenced by her personal experiences and life history. Being born into a set of triplet has allowed her a uniquely supportive life. She recognizes that many people do not have a significant support system in their lives and hopes to offer valuable support as a therapist. Jillian has also faced life altering medical challenges, and has overcome them by using art as a healing tool. Artistic expression has helped her heal from heart surgery and cope with chronic pain. With a degree in art therapy she hopes to share the therapeutic experience of art making with her clients and community.

After graduation from RMCAD, Jillian began volunteering at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. While working in Pediatrics, adult Oncology and the Antepartum unit she introduces people of different ages and abilities to creativity and healing arts. After completing over 200 hours of volunteer experience she has now entered into a 6 month internship with Cynthia Lockhart and Soul’s Palette Arts. The experiences she gains as a healing arts volunteer and intern have been eye opening and further reinforced her decision to pursue a career in medical art therapy.

Meet Cynthia Pagaduan Ignacio

Organization / February 24, 2013


Cynthia Pagaduan Ignacio lived a bi-coastal life before settling into the city nestled by the foothills, Boulder, nearly a half decade ago. She moved with whimsy toward an untraditional type of education at Naropa University where she graduated with a BA in Visual Arts and a minor in Contemplative Psychology in May of 2011. She loves people, animals, learning and exploring. Her main goal in life is to bring simple joys to everyone she encounters.

Not your usual day at the hospital (Development through music)

Music / February 22, 2013


Today, I shared music with 2 pediatric patients and their families.  On a “usual” day on the pediatrics unit, patients eat, sleep, take medications, eat, sleep, and repeat.  But on these days, they are also cared for by their doctors and nurses, visited by child-life specialists, and engage in activities with other Healing Arts volunteers.  These are the “not so usual” moments in which pediatric patients get to develop in their social interactions, express emotions, and maybe even get a little exercise (improving upon their physical development).

Music experiences can be used to help pediatric patients develop socially, emotionally, and physically, among other areas.  Too often, the circumstances which keep a child bed-bound may also keep a child from developing like their typical peers.  As a music therapy student, I have learned techniques and interventions to help children work on their developmental needs.

As a volunteer with the Healing Arts Program, I perform patients’ favorite music and invite them to join in with me in the music-making process.  (The performances I share are similar to music therapy techniques and interventions, but because I am not yet a board-certified music therapist, I use music performances which may lead to positive changes and benefits, such as a child developing socially, physically, and emotionally while making music.  For more on music therapy techniques, interventions, and general information about music therapy, you can check out www.musictherapy.org)

Today, the patients I visited sang along, shook maracas, and played a mean tambourine beat.  In doing so, one patient went from lying down in his bed at the start of our visit to sitting upright, smiling, and exercising his upper body while playing maracas along with me.  After listening to the lyrics of a reflective song, that same patient also expressed his thankfulness for his family and the support they’ve given him throughout his illness.  Another patient giggled and smiled at her father as they played together with me to Katy Perry’s “Firework”.  Her dad had never heard of the song (or Katy Perry, for that matter!), but he joined right in, willing to engage in social and healthy interactions with his daughter while passing time at the hospital.

As a music volunteer for the Healing Arts Program, I’ve had other powerful moments like these in which I’ve shared music with pediatric patients, Bone Marrow Transplant patients, and oncology patients.  I look forward to sharing more stories with you about how music can be used as a powerful tool to meet physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs of hospital patients.



Meet Destiny Reed

Organization / February 22, 2013

Destiny_0259 (2)

My husband and I moved to Denver from my home state, Alaska, in 2011. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to finish my B.A. in Psychology and am currently pursuing a Masters in Counseling. I volunteer with the Healing Arts Program, the Denver Voice, and Central Presbyterian Church as I enjoy helping others and being involved in the community. In my free time I snowboard, read, take ballet classes, and play with my Maine Coon cat, Cornelius.