I started working with persons addicted to heroin in 1987. That was my first entrance into the social work profession. Since that time I have worked in a variety of settings: schools, hospitals, treatment centers, child welfare agencies, prisons, jails, mental health centers, and group homes. I have heard thousands of stories of strength, courage, resiliency, pain, hope, grief, trauma, and tragedy. What I have learned is that people have the capacity for change, resilience, growth and when ONE just ONE person believes in them. All we have to do is bring hope and light to the dark places for one another.
I naturally, as the kid of an art teacher and professor wanted to be an artist myself. God had other plans in mind for me. I think he knew that I had a heart full of love and a desire to connect and serve others. HE also knows I have a passion for social justice. Therefore, I skipped art school to become a social worker. I was formerly on a path to become a social work professor. I left all but dissertation and decided to get back to the people. So I went back to work in the trenches landing in an ER setting for some years, a high school, a psychiatric residential treatment facility, and now again in a mental health center serving kids and families in crisis at the crisis center here in Topeka.
I want to make a difference my own way. I saw a need while serving as a high school social worker to address conditions secondary to poverty to include homelessness. Kids residing in shelter do not get to play sports, play instruments, take art classes, go to drama lessons, engage in dance or gymnastics nor do they have access to adequate clothing, food, or extended family supports. I want to give directly to children and their families. I want to help one kid and one family at a time to pay for school fees, housing deposits, activities for the kids (they get to choose supplies-lessons-etc).
Through the sale of items from my original artwork clothing line Ayrault Artwear, I plan to give away 50 % of the proceeds to the homeless shelter here in Lawrence, Kansas. Once the business grows I hope to expand this cause to serve all kids residing in shelter care throughout the Midwest!