CATA News (Fall 2020)

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Fall 2020

People with disabilities are facing a year unlike any other.

Here’s how you can make a difference for CATA artists today...

“CATA is DOUBLY vital now.” Your support provides life-changing programs CATA artists count on. Before the pandemic, Ethan—a young man with autism—was working hard to become independent. “We were so grateful to find CATA,” says Laura, Ethan’s aunt. “Immediately it gave him a sense of self and a sense of acceptance.” After a year at CATA, Ethan was opening up to the world—learning to speak for himself in acting class, becoming comfortable in his body through dance, making friends while painting. But when COVID hit, everything Ethan relied on disappeared—his friends, his CATA classes, and his community. “Ethan felt the loss immediately,” says Laura. “He can’t go out and do the things that used to bring him joy. It’s hard on him. Every day, he asks when they’ll find the medicine so he can get out again.” Last spring, thanks to the support of people like you, CATA pivoted quickly to keep serving people with disabilities. Students, adults, and elders with developmental disabilities. People with traumatic brain injuries. And elders with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Thanks to our supporters, we reinvented in-person arts workshops as dynamic virtual programs, where Ethan and so many other CATA artists could be together and express themselves creatively. 2

But we need your support now to continue these programs into the new year. Without you, we simply can’t provide the vital programs that hundreds of people with disabilities count on.

“Ethan felt the loss immediately. Now, CATA is his link to the outside world.” “Ethan was so happy that CATA continued online,” says Laura. “It’s become his link to the outside world. Even though he’s not going outside the home, he is in those moments when he’s in a CATA workshop.” What Ethan missed most was being with his peers. At CATA, that connection came naturally. “People don’t always think he’s listening because he makes noises or flaps his hands,” says Laura. “It takes Ethan longer than others —sometimes 10, 15 seconds—to respond. CATA honors that. They allow him to be who he is.”

t Before the pandemic, Ethan was opening up to the world in CATA workshops. q Now, with your support, Ethan is finding joy in virtual arts programs like drumming, acting, yoga, painting, dance, and more.

YOUR gift to CATA means more now than ever. CATA artists are confronting a year unlike any other. They urgently need our programs. But the harsh realities of COVID have created financial hardships for many of the families and agencies we work with. And with COVID increasing expenses, the creative programs that CATA artists rely on are at risk. We’re turning to you to ask for your help. Will you give this year to support your neighbors with disabilities?

“For CATA artists, these programs are essential to their everyday lives,” says Margaret Keller, CATA’s Executive Director. “It’s how they connect to other people. It’s how they express themselves as unique individuals.”

PS: Increase your gift—or make your first donation—by December 31 and your gift will be DOUBLED, thanks to a Match Challenge! Turn to the back of this newsletter to see how you can make TWICE the impact.

“CATA gives Ethan the opportunity to succeed,” says Laura. “At CATA, there are no ‘no’s’—it’s all YES. It’s a home for him. A place where he can express himself and be part of a team.” “CATA was vital before COVID, but now it’s DOUBLY VITAL,” adds Laura. “In these times when Ethan has very little opportunity to connect, these programs are so important. I don’t know what we’d do without them.”

Please give today so CATA artists like Ethan don’t lose life-changing arts programs. Your support will make a difference now for hundreds of people with disabilities in our community. p Your gifts bring creativity to CATA artists like Natasha in music and instrument-making workshops.

Your generosity keeps CATA artists connected in a time of crisis. It’s Tuesday in October at the Berkshire County Arc Nu-Opps Brain Injury program. CATA artists—masked and distanced—spread out across a big room, ready for their favorite hour of the week. Paula Boyajian, CATA’s yoga instructor, appears on a big screen and everyone’s eyes light up. “It’s time for CATA!” “The pandemic has been hard for all of us, but it’s been especially hard for people with disabilities,” says Elizabeth Buratto, Program Manager at Nu-Opps. “Our folks don’t have a lot of opportunities to go out and do the things they enjoy. Having CATA programs, being able to see their peers and be creative, it’s huge for them.” 4

As the coronavirus crisis rages on, people with disabilities are still sheltering in place. After months of isolation, strict quarantine measures are taking a heavy toll. But with your support, CATA artists can find joy together through online workshops in dance, painting, music, acting, creative writing, juggling, yoga, and more. “CATA is an outlet for our folks,” says Elizabeth. “They’ve made strong connections through CATA over the years. It means so much to them to keep those connections going when they’ve been isolated for so many months.” From her yoga mat back in the CATA studio, Paula welcomes each of the artists through the screen.

photo by Christina Lane

“Having CATA programs right now—it’s huge for us.”

t CATA artists at BCArc’s Nu-Opps Brain Injury Program find joy in virtual CATA yoga workshops. Your support makes programs like this possible.

“Just being able to see and connect with each other is so important,” says Paula. “That’s why I make time for everyone to say hello and take a moment to see each other. To create a sense of togetherness and belonging.”

“It means so much to them to keep these connections going when they’ve felt isolated for so many months.” For CATA artist Cathy, yoga workshops have been especially meaningful during the pandemic. “It makes me feel happy,” says Cathy. “We do a lot of breathing and exercises. And I see my friends. It’s really helped me feel calm and not get stressed.” “It’s a chance for CATA artists to talk about what’s going on in the world, what’s bringing them stress,” says Paula. “People sometimes think that people with disabilities aren’t thinking on that level. But of course they are. We all have stress. And disability or not, yoga can bring you calmness.”

p “When Carol saw the art supplies from CATA, she was over the moon,” says Elizabeth at Nu-Opps. “It just made her day.” Your gift sends creative care packages to CATA artists to use in fun online workshops.

“We’re so grateful for all that CATA is doing right now,” says Elizabeth. “Delivering art supplies and bringing our folks the programs they love.” By making a gift to CATA, YOU can keep these programs going for CATA artists in our community. “It’s so important to support CATA, especially now,” says Paula. “The number of people who benefit from these programs, it’s like a volcano. Every gift makes a difference for so many.”

p “It’s more important than ever to support CATA,” says Paula. “Every gift makes a difference for so many people.”

Your gift connects people with disabilities with their talents—and with the community. Please make a gift today to support CATA artists in this time of crisis.


Seizing this moment to make a difference. p “In this time of crisis, CATA is finding ways to do the good stuff they’ve always done,” says Virginia Giddens.

For CATA donors Virginia and James Giddens, there’s no better time than now to support CATA. When Virginia Giddens first learned about CATA from her friends, she knew it must be doing great things in the community. “My friends were passionate about it. I thought— these are good people, and I admire their judgement. If they think CATA is important, then it really must be!’” Soon after, Virginia visited a rehearsal and saw the artists in action. She was hooked. “I was immediately taken with it. It was simply wonderful.” Now, Virginia is a CATA superfan and a member of CATA’s Loyalty Circle—a dedicated group of supporters who have made a gift for five or more consecutive years. “With everything going on in the world,” says Virginia Giddens, “we have an opportunity to make a positive impact. To take a stand for people who have not always been included. CATA artists are a valuable part of our society. They need our attention now more than ever.”


When Virginia’s cousin passed away recently, Virginia knew she wanted to honor her memory with a gift to CATA. “When I see CATA artists performing, I think of Louise. She had a disability and she loved music. It would have been wonderful if there was a CATA near her, that she could have been a part of.”

“With everything going on in the world, we have an opportunity to make a positive impact.” One thing Virginia admires about CATA: it’s one-of-a-kind. “CATA has a special place in the Berkshires. Even across the region it’s unique. They’re not just a musical organization or a theater. CATA brings artists of all kinds together to connect people with disabilities in the arts. It’s a reminder of how we can all benefit from creativity.”

photos above by Christina Lane

p Your support helps CATA artists like Roman (left) and Ben (right) take part in safe, outdoor arts workshops through partnerships with The Mount, Berkshire Botanical Garden, and Mass Audubon.

“I also love that CATA connects with so many organizations in the Berkshires,” says Virginia Giddens. “I’m a member of The Mount’s board of directors, and we all agree: partnering with CATA is one the best things we do all year!” For Virginia, one silver lining of the pandemic has been the chance to connect with the talents of CATA artists in a new way. “I’m so impressed with the virtual exhibits, artist

videos and online events that they’ve been putting together. Even in these unusual circumstances, CATA is finding ways to do the good stuff they’ve always done. The energy and enthusiasm they put into sharing the creativity of CATA artists—it hasn’t changed.”

Please join Virginia and James Giddens and make a gift to support CATA artists in this time of unprecedented need.

What CATA artists love about the programs you’re making possible:

“I get to be with my friends.” -Brent Mille (BFAIR)

“It makes me happy. I love painting!” -Maria Netti (United Cerebral Palsy of Berkshire County / BFAIR)

“Good people!” -Frank Felix (BCArc)

“Everything! It makes me joyful.” -Franny Brown (Riverbrook)

Your gift could be DOUBLED! Give now and help us unlock a $25,000 Match Challenge to support CATA artists. Did you know? In response to COVID-19, the CARES Act makes it easier for YOU to give! Individuals can deduct donations up to 100% of their 2020 Adjusted Gross Income and corporations can deduct up to 25% of taxable income. That’s great news for you and CATA!

A group of anonymous donors has pledged an additional $25,000 IF we can raise $25,000 in new or increased gifts by December 31. Your contribution now will go even further to support programs for people with disabilities during this time of unprecedented need. Are you a CATA regular? Increase your generous gift and you’ll bring twice the joy to CATA artists! Didn’t give last year? Give now and every dollar will be DOUBLED!

Your support now means more than ever. Simply fill out the enclosed envelope or visit to make your gift today.

q Your gifts bring creative programs in yoga, dance, painting, and more, to CATA artists in our community.

420 Stockbridge Rd, Suite 2 Great Barrington, MA 01230 (413) 528-5485 •

Stephen Shatz, President Emily Rechnitz, Vice President Heather Wells Heim, Vice President Ira Grossman, Treasurer Elaine Radiss, Secretary Sandra Baron · Kathryn Burdsall Beverly Hosokawa · David Hosokawa Melissa Lydon · Neal Maxymillian Sharon Mozian · Rich Petrino David Rice · Linda Russell Ben Silberstein · John Whalan


CATA has a new address! Please update your records.


photo by Christina Lane Margaret Keller, Executive Director Dawn Lane, Program & Artistic Director Katie Clarke, Administrative Director Jeff Gagnon, Program Manager Kara Smith, Program Coordinator Alexandra Heddinger, Development Director Kate Harding, Development Associate Chris Watford, Communications Manager Dorothea Oakes, Administrative Associate Sandra Newman, Founder all photos by CATA unless otherwise noted

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