In the News
By Dara McBridedmcbride@cecilwhig.comCecil Daily
ELKTON — As the parent of five children and a caregiver for a sister paralyzed from polio, Eileen Felice first turned to painting as a catharsis.
At first, she used paper and basic children’s paints. She checked out books from her local library and would try to recreate paintings she admired.
Eventually, Felice moved to acrylic painting on canvass. She briefly studied with impressionistic artist Gale Bennett at a workshop in Florida. Since she started seriously painting in her 60s, Felice has won numerous contests in Maryland and Florida in her brief career.
Now, Felice is turning her hobby into a way to raise money for the Bayside Community Network. In the past month, Bayside has begun promoting a sale of Felice’s art work, which will go to providing iPads for patients with autism and other disabilities.
Despite her generous donation, Felice insists the dedicated workers at Bayside deserve all the attention. She’s just trying to help out.
“Everyone there has such a positive attitude. I never see anyone grumpy or grouchy,” Felice said.
Bayside, located off Pulaski Highway in Elkton, is a care facility for people with disabilities. Through a combination of therapy, education and training, staff at Bayside try to help individuals become as independent as possible.
Felice has a personal connection to Bayside. Her son, Christopher, has Down syndrome. He started going to Bayside in 2001 and now lives in a group home there. Before moving to Bayside, Felice cared for Christopher and found him jobs to keep him working five days a week.
“I didn’t realize that even though the jobs were good and I was proud of him, he needed to be with his peers,” Felice said. Her son now visits with her for dinner on Wednesdays and on the weekends.
Today, Felice paints out of her home in Elkton. Not everyone peaks in their youth, she reminds people.
Since Felice received no formal training at the start of her career, she has developed a unique style. She might use two brushes at once or hold the paintbrush at an unusual angle. She mixes the primary colors to create the looks she needs instead of buying specialty paints.
“When you see my art, you know it’s my art because of the style,” Felice said.
Felice paints with abandon and speaks honestly about her work. Once hired to paint a portrait for two sisters of their mother off a blurry photograph, Felice was unhappy with her work and made two different portraits. She told the sisters to pay what they thought the work was worth. They both paid $300 which went to Bayside.
The Bayside art sale has made a fundraiser in this first month and there is no end date for the program. Karl Guldner, development director for Bayside, said the money raised will help provide services Bayside otherwise could not on its annual budget.
“It enables us to do above and beyond what we already do,” Guldner said.
Before the iPad, touch technology for Bayside cost $8,000, Guldner said. Now, the combination of the iPad and an application that fits Bayside’s needs costs about $700. The iPads can be used to facilitate communication or as a behavior monitor, therapeutic device or educational tool.
Felice calls Bayside a blessing for helping her family, but the folks at Bayside think Felice is the blessing for donating her artwork.
“It’s really, really helping people,” she said of Bayside. “I feel blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in Bayside.”
In Cecil County, Felice’s work can be found at the Cecil County Arts Council, Kathy’s Korner in North East and through Bayside’s sale. For more information on Felice’s work or to purchase a piece, call 410-398-6394 or visit Bayside’s website, www.thevalueofcommunity.org.
October 15, 2013 — Karl Guldner and Mary Falkenstein, receive a check for $32,000 from Erik Bellsolell, vice president of Areas USA, George Fish, project manager for Maryland Department of Transportation and Carlos de Jesus, Director of Operations for Areas USA.
The check represents donations received through the “Give to Live” campaign – a partnership of Areas USA, operators of the Maryland House and Chesapeake House travel plazas and Bayside Community Network.
The donations are being put to use immediately to provide job training and placement, educational programs, housing and therapy for hundreds of adults with a disability. The donations are also used to provide a summer camp for kids with special needs.
October 10, 2013 — Members of Elkton Memorial VFW Post 8175 were honored on Oct. 10 for 25 years of support for services to Cecil County citizens with disabilities.
Charlie McCoy, post commander, accepted the award on behalf of the VFW members and the Ladies Auxiliary Post 8175 from Mary Falkenstein, executive director, Bayside Community Network.
Every year, for the past 25 years, VFW Post 8175 sponsors dances in the spring and fall and provides financial support to ensure services for Cecil County citizens with disabilities.