By Matt Hickman

For many who enter the annual Salvation Army Transformed Treasure show each year, art is a hobby. For Christie DeMolina, it’s her profession, though not so much aesthetic in purpose as healing.

“I sit down with people and do an assessment of what they like to do; what they’re interested in and customize a program,” DeMolina said of her work as an art therapist. “It can be art, poetry, writing, singing, songwriting, metal caustics, acrylics, water colors — all different types of art.”

DeMolina is one of dozens of artists entered in Transformed Treasures, where artists pick out items from the Salvation Army Thrift Store and turn them into works of art. This 12th annual event is Saturday, May 18 at the Egan Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage starting at 11:30 and wrapping up at 1:30. Funds raised from the art show go to support Salvation Army causes around the Anchorage area.

For DeMolina, this is her seventh Salvation Army Transformed Treasures show and her piece this year, which uses copper wiring, among other items, to transform a simple wooden carving of a kneeling horn-blower into a piece that quite simply pops.

“When I found this guy, his leg was broken… He was kind of in bad shape, so I repaired him and I thought he was better black than brown,” DeMolina said. “I got the idea from one of the SEMA Cars, this exclusive car show for collectors and exhibitors. I found this one car that was probably from 1940, matte black with a copper finish bumper-to-bumper and all of the accents on it were copper.”

The allure and the challenge of the Salvation Army’s Transformed Treasures is going into the thrift store with a concept in mind as to how best to stretch a $50 spending limit.

“I think it’s just about looking at things outside the box,” DeMolina said. “It’s really important to look at things beyond what they appear to be on the outside and you can see that throughout the whole show. The great thing about working with artists is that they don’t see what you would normally see. You have that first, literal take on a piece of glass or a piece of cement. Maybe it looks like something else to them and this is an opportunity to show that.”

Like many entrants in the Salvation Army Transformed Treasure show, DeMolina collaborates with other artists, and one that stood out in particular was legendary Anchorage Daily Times cartoonist Jane Hafling, who had been an art therapy client of DeMolina’s before her passing in 2017.

“Jane was a huge advocate of this show, she and her daughter Connie have always done this show,” DeMolina said. “Most of my clients are between 85 and 104 and I have this amazing opportunity to work with some super-cool people and Jane was one of them. Jane and I, one of the years, created a piece together. We basically went shopping at the warehouse, talked about what to do and I used some of her sketches on the outside of this box we made.”

It was Hafling who turned DeMolina onto the idea of volunteering her professional skills at the Salvation Army’s Serendipity Adult Day Services at 3550 20th Ave. in Anchorage. Opened in 1982 by the Salvation Army, Serendipity provides seniors with disabilities a place to spend daytime hours while their families may be busy at work. It is the only non-profit adult day service provider in the Anchorage area.

The program offers games, fellowship with other seniors, classes and the like for the clients.

“We have a lot of clients who live with their families still and some are in assisted living,” said Cathy Brenner, Program Director for Salvation Army’s Serendipity Adult Day Services. “They come for meaningful engagement and supports they need. A lot of them have dementia… all have a disability.”

Brenner said she’s excited to be able to offer DeMolina’s services to her clients, who often bus to the facility through Anchor Rides and other services.

“It’s a great benefit to families that work still and their older person can’t be at home alone,” Brenner said.

Salvation Army’s Serendipity Adult Day Services is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Brenner said the facility typically gets 30 to 45 clients per day and can handle about 45 with a staffing minimum of one staff worker for every four clients.

“I started working with Jane and ended up working with Connie and Deanna... It’s kind of serendipitous the way things circle around and people circle back to each other,” DeMolina said. “They suggested Serendipity and got me in touch to see if there was any way we could do classes with people at Serendipity.”

The 12th annual Salvation Army Transformed Treasures event is Saturday, May 18 at the Egan Civic and Convention Center from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Sale of the auction items helps raise funds for The Salvation Army programs while promoting the recycling, refurbishing and re-purposing of used goods.

Tickets are $40 per person and include a catered buffet lunch. To get tickets or for more information, log on to call (907) 339-3426.

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