31 January

Hat Party For The Mansion Refugees: Art Smiles!

by Jon Katz

Miracles do happen, I saw one tonight. I brought a bag of hats to the Danforth Adult Center, where the Mansion refugees have been  staying, I said we needed to have a hat party. We tried hats on and everybody had a blast. I’ll show the photos.

I got my friend Art to smile and joke about this hat from Cambodia a friend gave me to offer it to Sylvie or the other Mansion residents. It was too small for her and the other residents I tried it on, but I saw that Art was quite drawn to it. He put it on and beamed, and then actually smiled. He said he’d love to keep it, just to show people he can laugh.

I’ve been collecting the hats for some days now, thinking it would make a great party. They needed one tonight.

Minutes before, Art had been sternly advising me that he was where God wanted him to be, and he had more than a few things to say about the maintenance crew at the Mansion and how if he was given command, things would be different.

Art – he was away from the Mansion for a time – and I had a long series of important conversations before he went away, he is an unyielding Biblical Fundamentalist and has some political views that are different from mine.But that is not really my business, it is good to be in touch with him again. His time at the Danforth Adult Care Center has been hard on him, he did some loud complaining  there about his bed.

He also missed the Christian programming on his TV back at the Mansion.

I was shocked when I saw him smile as he put this hat on. “See,” he said, “people can see that I can smile.” I told Art that was great, “I’ve never seen you smile, Art.” Neither have the Mansion aides.

I believe and have always believe that Art has a big heart, for all his blustering and lecturing.

He has told me of the awful abuse he suffered at home and in school, and he is aware of the anger he sometimes carries within him. He says God wants him to protect the vulnerable people at the Mansion, and make sure they are treated well.

He also has confided in me that he misses the Mansion a great deal and is eager to go back, if that is what God has in store for him.

The Mansion residents are tentatively expected to return home Monday from the Danforth  Center – they have been there just about a month. The move is pending state approval and inspection. The residents are more than  ready.

The hat party was a sensation. More photos coming tonight.

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