Dr. Mark: A Gift to Saint John’s

What is it that keeps someone coming back to Saint John’s as a volunteer for over 11 years? It’s a few things, but most importantly, it’s the heart of the person.

One such volunteer is Dr. Mark Johnson, a retired physician with an amazing talent for using his heart and art to reach and touch the souls of the ladies who live here. How does he do this, and what’s in it for him?

Simply put, he sees the depth and colors within the shadows of each woman and her story. That view gives him joy and hope as he enters our red doors to “teach” art classes. Dr. Mark says, “I have found my peeps. Bouncy curves, tattoos, blue spiked hair, lovely smiles all waving at me down the hall. This is why God put me here…how wonderful.”

Each time Dr. Mark appears, he opens the door for the women to show themselves in their art work – helps them to see all the colors, the light and the darkness within the shadows. “Things that are dark can, in fact, be full of incredible colors, kinda like us.”

Posted throughout our building are paintings as varied as the women who live here – some bright sunflowers, some pathways that look like tunnels to the sky, some waters that are calm – others that are not, some of themselves or their happy children at play, and others that are simply patterns and shades of the rainbow.

This is why God put me here … how wonderful.

What Dr. Mark sees – and what he hopes the women see – is that there is beauty in everything and everybody. Sometimes, it just takes a little imagination to see it – and to see ourselves.

A gift to Saint John’s Program for Real Change, Dr. Mark, we thank you for your heart all these years!

This post was written by Ellen Gemma, guest blogger and Saint John’s Program for Real Change volunteer.

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