Giving—and Inspiring—with Color

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Writer, coach, and artist Jill Kelly first heard about the Letty Owings Center (LOC) about 10 years ago at a 12-step meeting. But it wasn’t until recently, from a desire to donate some of her artwork that she got more closely connected to Central City Concern’s residential treatment center for women with children.

“For the past two years, I've been involved in a wonderful program on transforming my relationship with money. One of our last assignments was to make a philanthropy plan. I balked at doing this because I don't have a lot of money to give away, but I began thinking of all the things I could give away besides money. And one of my biggest areas of wealth is my artwork. I began to think about how I could give some of it away, not just a piece at a time but a whole bunch of pieces.

“In 1989, I had spent 28 days in a treatment facility in rural Virginia. It was a safe place but it had very drab walls. I wanted to give my art to a treatment center for women in Portland, and the Letty Owings Center responded enthusiastically to my inquiry. I visited and found it to be a warm and friendly place but very basic. No art on the walls and not much color.”

Jill’s timing could not have been more perfect. LOC staff had recently started a project to repaint all 30 residential rooms with bold, cheerful colors. When LOC staffer Stephanie Draper saw pictures of the 31 paintings Jill was donating, she knew it was a tremendous opportunity. Stephanie had just completed painting the fifth room at LOC when she saw the artwork.

“Jill’s soft pastel and acrylic pieces use a lot of bold colors, and they are a great fit with the environment we’re trying to create,” said Stephanie. “We’re going to use Jill’s pieces to inspire color choices on the next 25 rooms.”

To make it easy for LOC to use the paintings, Jill took her donation further by encouraging her friends and family to donate funds ($4,000!) so that every piece could go to LOC already framed. Two framing get-togethers later and all 31 pieces were ready for pick-up.

“We are beyond thrilled with this donation,” said LOC Program Manager Tammy Hooper. “It was so generous of Jill and her friends to help us with the framing. We can’t wait to get these pieces up on the walls.”

Central City Concern will share photos of finished rooms – with Jill’s artwork – in the coming months. Thank you, Jill and friends, for making Letty Owings Center a more cheerful environment! To see Jill’s artwork, visit