Joel Angel Garcia says he painted occasionally before he lost his vision to diabetes, but when the 61-year-old Palmview, Texas resident went blind, his vision for helping others became clear. “I would paint and so forth beforehand,” says Joel, “but when I got blind, I got on my knees and cried like a baby and asked God, ‘what do you want me to do? I need your help,’ and he did.”
Now a prolific painter, Joel has created hundreds of pieces of art over the last ten years, donating the pieces to benefit various organizations around his community. From Mujeres Unidas to hospitals for children, universities to the Salvation Army, Joel’s abstract paintings are changing lives and creating a stronger community.
What inspires you to volunteer?
Volunteering naturally came into my life. Someone said, ‘Why don’t you make a painting and donate it? It’ll benefit any type of charity.’ Then I did another one, and it just grew and grew, and I loved the service because it was for children or people with cancer, victims of family violence, their children and more.
Describe your volunteerism.
I’ve painted hundreds of pieces of abstract artwork over the last ten years. I paint using watercolors or oil. I hope to make art for as long as I can. My paintings are three feet tall and six feet long. My favorite artwork is called “Broken Promises” – it’s a painting of shattered glasses that I donated to Mujeres Unidas, an organization that provides shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. I donate art to organizations around the Rio Grande Valley and several other states. My daughter and son-in-law help me, and the benefits from the sold artwork go to the organizations.
Share one personal story with me from your volunteerism.
I’m God’s humble servant and he gives me the energy [to volunteer]. [Volunteering is] soothing, it’s beautiful. I can hear the people, let’s say at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, thank me for my service, and of course a lot of children have brand new shoes or toys because of my donated art. That makes me feel so wonderful.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your service?
I feel a great humbleness and energy from volunteering. It’s hard to describe, but you feel fulfilled from service.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
The more you give, the more power and love you feel inside of you. You want to volunteer more everyday no matter what you’re going through.
You have your own health challenges, but continue to give. What do you want people to learn from your story?
Keep on trying to do something in your life because if you stay stuck so to speak, you’re just going to stay there and that’s not going to help you, you’re just going to get worse. Keeping busy makes you succeed in life.
In one word, what does volunteering mean to you?
How can readers help?
Please visit my Facebook page for more information about my philanthropy.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Joel Angel Garcia? Find local volunteer opportunities.