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“ArtStream gives people a sense of belonging in a beautiful way.”

ArtStream, Inc.


In a guest post, volunteer mentor Nick Gillespie talks about the friendships he’s made with the Gaithersburg Inclusive Theatre Company.


I am so forever grateful to be a part of an organization as awesome as ArtStream! The smiles that the actors always have are so contagious and the volunteering environment is welcoming and inviting.

Every week, the talented actors greet me at the door. I feel a special connection with Javi, Mike, and Joe because we are a grouped together in the musical. We take a few minutes to socialize before getting down to business. We tell each other stories about the past week. One time I told Javi that I was going on a date. Javi responded by telling me about the most recent party that he attended. I joked, “I’ve never been to a cool kid party.”  The actors like to reminisce about when they were my age and it always puts a smile on my face to hear about the actors’ lives.

It always puts a smile on my face to hear about the actors’ lives.

Julie, the director, calls the group together to check in. Then we break up into small groups to work on our scenes. In this year’s musical, To Enchantia, Javi, Mike, Joe, and I play classic movie monsters. Sometimes we finish rehearsing before the other groups and we get a little silly. Julie tells us to stop goofing off. We just say that we’re EXTRA productive.

The things that ArtStream has taught me go far beyond what I could have imagined. I originally joined to get more experience with adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). My brother has autism, and my family often worries about what his life will be like after he finishes school — how his life will be structured, what kind of relationships he will have. It can be overwhelming.

Thanks to ArtStream, I learned what the future could hold for my brother and other people like him. My hope for him is to be included and valued in our community as much as possible. ArtStream does this flawlessly. It gives people a sense of belonging in a beautiful way. I am proud to do what I can to help. ArtStream has given me faith that inclusion and community can still exist after people with IDD finish school.

ArtStream gives people a sense of belonging in a beautiful way.

There’s no way to overstate ArtStream’s impact. It’s a program of inclusion, of involvement in the community, and most importantly of excitement and enthusiasm!

– Nick Gillespie