A Letter From Julie

A Letter From Paint Love’s Founder and Executive Director, Julie McKevitt

Julie McKevitt Paint Love founder and founding executive director

For years, I had a desire to start an arts-based nonprofit for kids, specifically for those facing childhood-trauma. I remember the day I shared this dream with my boyfriend (now husband). I was nervous he would laugh or brush it off. But he didn’t laugh...so naturally I married him. (Obviously there were other reasons too, He has really great hair 😉 and is kind and smart and great with kids...) A few years later, roughly five years ago, as newlyweds, my husband and I sat in a Cuban restaurant in midtown and wrote out plans for what would become Paint Love.

Julie and Aaron McKevitt Paint Love arts programming for kids Atlanta

Starting Paint Love has been an incredibly personal journey. It has involved every aspect of my life, including my friends, my family, my mornings, weekends, and my nights. We sacrificed some of our wants financially to pursue this dream. But what surprised me in this journey is that so many people, who once were strangers, have given and sacrificed for the dream of Paint Love. And because of them, Paint Love has become an incredible force in Atlanta.

What started out as six programs in 2014 has turned into one of Atlanta’s most sought-after, trauma-informed art programs for youth, with more than 220 events since our founding. This year, Paint Love will serve our 10,000th student, and continue being a leader for change in the Atlanta area. This will also be the year I step into a new role with Paint Love. As my family transitions into a new phase, I knew the timing was right to step out of the role as executive director.

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My friends and family closest to me asked if it would be the end of Paint Love. I’m so so humbled and honored to share that Paint Love is bigger than me and not only will it continue, but it will continue under the leadership of one of the most talented, creative and intelligent individuals I know. Laura Shaw will be Paint Love’s new Executive Director and I will transition to chairman of the board. If you have worked with Paint Love at all you know the important role Laura has played for several years now running operations, grant writing, and helping us plan and think strategically. I am so glad she wants to lead Paint Love into the future.

This move is not only the best possible decision for Paint Love, it’s the best decision for my family who has sacrificed so much for this dream. I will now be able to spend more time with my two girls and will put a lot of those Paint Love projects to practice in my kitchen with my three year old. Thank you for joining me on this personal journey, for praying, donating, listening, liking, and not totally blocking me when I asked you repeatedly for money. As Laura takes over I want her to feel welcomed and supported by the community that has carried me and this idea for so long. Thank you so much! I’m excited for what lies ahead.

Sincerely,

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Art Impacts... Art strengthens communication for kids who've experienced domestic violence.

Discover more about Paint Love's impact.

Paint Love utilizes the power of the arts to make an impact on youth who are facing some of life’s most difficult circumstances. It is our hope that every child, teen, and young adult that experiences a Paint Love program will discover inner strength, to help them face the adversity in their life. 

One demographic we work with is children who have experienced domestic violence.  Through our partnership with the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, we have been able to carefully curate programs that address the specific needs of this group. 

Kids who have experienced violence at home often find it challenging or even physically impossible to talk about their experiences. Trauma such as domestic violence can directly interfere with the part of the brain that manages language capacity, impeding development and leaving children with limited capacity to communicate verbally. Artistic expression engages parts of the brain that don’t rely on verbalization, so art can help them to find their  voice, and know that what they have to say matters.

Artist Nikita Raper led kids at Camp PEACE in creating these amazing clay platters. They designed the patterns, cut and glazed the pieces, and Nikita fired them in the kiln, bringing out these incredible colors. Research shows that allowing kids who’ve experienced trauma like those we serve with Camp PEACE, the chance to achieve a sense of mastery and participation in something they enjoy, helps them learn that their efforts matter, and they matter.

Camp PEACE is the summer program of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. WRCDV “strive[s] to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the diverse community of battered women and their children with programs that promote safety, compassion, connection, advocacy, and prevention.” 


Because of the generosity of the Paint Love community, we have been able to offer them over 20 art projects, to serve over 200 students over three years! 

Plexi-Mobiles w/ Sara Santamaria (TCP)-Day One

This post was written by Paint Love Operations intern, Maya Glass.

To learn more about Paint Love's internship program, visit www.gopaintlove.org/careers. 


What’s more fitting for Cool Girls than a cool, unique project? Nothing! We all may not remember, but when we were newborns we must have stared inquisitively at that spinning object above our heads playing tunes until it ‘lullabied’ us to sleep. What was that thing?! Oh yes, a mobile. Yesterday afternoon, about 45 girls in grade levels 2nd-5th indulged in creating eccentric shapes to be hung on their own handcrafted mobiles. This project is led by our wonderful lead artist, Sara Santamaria.

Each girl participated with enthusiasm and enjoyed making their prototypes. In this test run, we found what did or did not work for balance, string placement, weight distribution, etc. This time next go round, the girls should be familiar and experienced with the material. They will be making one large mobile, collectively as the final product. Thank you to our T-1 partner, Barack Obama Elementary, and Cool Girls, Inc. for allowing us to bring our program to your bright young girls. Can’t wait to meet again!

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