Chiong Lin is a talented, committed, and visionary staff member of the Cultural Arts Program at SpArc Services, which serves people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
Chiong works as a Direct Support Professional. This type of work can involve a great deal of emotional and physical input, but also can have tremendous personal reward. Chiong has taken her position and brought it to a new level by continuously coming up with creative methods and projects that will spark the imaginations of the people with whom she works. She commits her boundless energy to making peoples' lives better and enriched by art and community.
Chiong came to SpArc Services with a background in architecture, changing careers because she was seeking to serve in a helping field. From the beginning, she not only has developed many new opportunities for participants at SpArc, she makes those ideas a reality.
One of her most popular initiatives is Poetry Club, where participants create community by working together and exercising their creativity to write a group poem. Chiong also took the initiative to create a Fiber Arts program in Cultural Arts to introduce participants to a new creative outlet. She developed methods that were accessible and inclusive, such as beginner crochet, bowl making, weaving, and papier mache classes. Her classes are consistently full. That's only the tip of the iceberg of new ideas and programming that Chiong has brought to Cultural Arts -- other creative initiatives include color field design, gel printing, art appreciation classes, and "Our Built Environment" classes, that draws on her architecture background.
Chiong's compassion shines through, especially because without prior social services experience, she quickly learned how to form relationships with individuals with disabilities and their families. A particularly significant relationship is between Chiong and Marvin, a cultural arts program participant, and his close-knit family. As Marvin's Job Coach, Chiong helped him become an employed artist. At his June art exhibit, Marvin sold out of all of his artwork, and took in the proceeds from the sales. Deborah, Marvin's sister, said, "She encourages him to create. We didn't even know that he possessed these skills. She brings that out of him." Reflecting on Marvin's experience, Deborah said, "Our family is very proud of what he's achieved. It's because of Chiong."
Chiong works with Marvin and so many other talented artists at SpArc Services' studio space at the Cherry Street Pier. This studio allows program participants to work alongside other artists from the Philadelphia community. At the pier, participants take part in one-to-one arts classes, group sessions, and other community activities. Participants also earn a paycheck by selling their artwork in the studios at the Cherry Street Pier, along with the online marketplace.
Chiong is so enthusiastic about sharing the importance of SpArc Services' work and the talents of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. She is a tireless advocate for SpArc Services and the people we serve, creating communities and educating the public about how to connect with and support people with disabilities and their artistic endeavors.