Washington residents come home winners at fair
Tom Booher and Cathy Femia, both of Washington, won first- and second-place ribbons for crafts they entered in the Washington County Fair’s special needs division.
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Eugene Willis of Washington won a second-place ribbon in the Washington County Fair’s special needs division for a stepping stone he created.
Photo by MaChal Forbes
Cathy Femia grinned from ear to ear as she showed off a photograph of the glass vase she painted red with a flower in the center. But what made her proudest was the shiny blue ribbon attached.
“I got money for this stuff,” she said before displaying the crafts she purchased with her prize money – a latch hook kit and bundles of yarn that she had sorted by color into neat plastic bags.
Femia and two other Washington residents who receive housing and support from Arc Human Services won 15 awards altogether for their artwork in the Washington County Fair’s special needs division. Femia, along with Tom Booher and Eugene Willis, were diagnosed with mild developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Pam McVeigh, a member of the AHS Supported Living Team, said she and other team members never knew about the special needs division until they saw an exhibit flier this summer. McVeigh said it was the perfect opportunity for Femia, Booher and Willis, who participate in a free weekly painting class at the LeMoyne Center in Washington.
“The team is as proud as they are receiving their ribbons, just for their ability and expressing themselves through art like they have,” McVeigh said.
McVeigh said art is therapeutic for the three individuals. Femia sometimes feels agitated, but not when she is creating art.
“If she picks up her needle work, she just calms right down and her whole focus is on what she’s doing,” McVeigh said.
Femia, 67, learned latch hook and needlepoint techniques during her childhood. In addition to her painted vase, Femia won first place ribbons for her latch hook rug depicting a village in the fall, beaded necklace, woven potholders and tie-dyed T-shirt.
In her spare time, Femia works at the AHS sheltered employment workshop at Meadow Lands and is a member of a women’s church group.
Booher, 67, who is actively involved in Special Olympics golf, bowling and dartball, won a first-place award for a paper cut-out picture of his house, as well as various second-place awards. Booher formerly worked at 84 Lumber and Bobcat Co. and is now retired, but “he’s more active now than he was when he worked,” McVeigh said.
Willis said he enjoys artwork because he likes to keep his hands occupied when he is not washing dishes at the Double Tree hotel. He received ribbons for his painting of a red barn, a stepping stone and painted vase. He likes to go for rides through the country in Lone Pine, which gave him the idea to paint a barn.
“He’s inspired by the country,” McVeigh said, adding that his next project will be a painting of a bird bath.
“Just creating and imagining, it calms them,” McVeigh said of the three. “The simple pleasure of life, like focusing on one thing instead of everything around them, it’s therapeutic in the way that it relaxes them.”