Lifting Hearts with the Arts is a 501(c)(3) organization founded by Maya Joshi a student at one of Chicago’s finest public higschools. Founded in April of 2020 Maya came up with an idea that aims to use the arts as a platform to engage elderly members of the Chicagoland community. In adult populations, art can prevent cognitive decline by improving memory, reasoning and resilience. Maya has gathered a team of over 40 volunteers to give a little joy to the elderly during this difficult time through the arts!

“Art in all its forms has the power to connect us and lift our hearts and minds.”

  • What have you accomplished through this project? 

We have spread a lot. We have started working with over 20 different facilities across the country and hosted over 1000 meetings.

  • What is a memorable experience you have had with someone in a care facility?

There is this one woman I have talked to every weekday night at 7 o’clock since the end of April. We usually talk about current events and all that has been going on in the world. She has been incredibly down and depressed since she is unable to see her friends and family, basically confined in her room. Just this past Wednesday, we hosted a mini-concert in her facility through zoom. Our volunteers were able to perform to her and her friends. She also was able to perform for the volunteers too. And the night that we talked, we talked for 10 minutes about how happy she was. It was the most positive conversation we have had. Usually every night we talk for 1-2 minutes max. She is just done with COVID and also asks, “When is this all going to be over?”

  • Why is this important to you?

Initially, when the pandemic first started, I saw the toll it took on my grandparents. Even though they don’t live in a care facility it was still hard for them. We were so used to seeing them every single weekend and we couldn’t. But I know in care facilities across the country, seniors like them; they can’t do virtual visits with friends and family because of the lack of technology. They are just confined in their apartments and most are not even able to go in their hallways or even for a walk. That is what hit me. And then from there, that’s where we formulated the idea.

  • What has been the most difficult part of all of this for you personally?

Going into this, I wasn’t familiar with how to reach out to the different facilities. On the websites, you’ll see the option to enter your name and email address and then they will reach out to you as soon as they can. I filled all of those out thinking someone will call me and then we can set up our program. But it turns out, I got like a million calls 2 weeks afterward. And people were like “When do you want to move in?” and “How old are you?”. And I was like “No, I’m not looking to live in a senior facility”. Other than that, it has been a really fun experience being able to build friendships, and do art it’s really enjoyable.

  • How did you get the word out?

The 4 founders attend really big schools: Payton, Lane, and Whitney. From the 4 of us, we spread the word to friends, friends of friends. And we shared our program through our social media. We have been featured on a couple of different TV sources. We have a press page too!

Fun Fact: Jordan for a minute was a volunteer and she expresses how wonderful of an organization it is, she says “senior citizens are an incredibly vulnerable demographic who are easily abused. Their wealth of knowledge, and brutal honesty make for wonderful conversations. They warm my heart.”

Interviewed By: Atiya Chiphe