There was a time Athelia Johnson (AJ) didn’t know where she was going to sleep at night. Thanks to St. Paul’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) she doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. Through St. Paul’s PACE, she now lives in affordable housing, receiving the medical care that she needs, and is discovering her hidden talent.
“My health was shaky before St. Paul’s PACE,” AJ revealed. “I was homeless; I was missing my medical appointments. I was getting more and more depressed. It was scary.”
She credits St. Paul’s PACE for not only changing her life but for helping her discover who she is.
“I am just finding out who I am,” she explains. “I am doing that through St. Paul’s PACE with the people that I interact with, from the drivers to my doctors to the other participants and all of the staff. I feel happy when I go to the St. Paul’s PACE center and happy when I come out. St. Paul’s PACE is more than a family, they are a blessing. Everyone there are angels to me, from the time I walk in the door.”
AJ also credits St. Paul’s PACE with helping her discover a hidden talent.
“I had no idea I could paint,” AJ admits. “I painted an orchid at St. Paul’s PACE and discovered I love painting. St. Paul’s PACE had a real art instructor come out, and we had real brushes.”
Confessing that she has always loved art but never made time for it, she now finds peace from her obsessive-compulsive disorder in mixing colors. To further her artistic talent, she decided to take a community college art class. As an assignment, she recreated “A View near Volterra,” painted in 1838 by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. She was encouraged to enter it into the San Diego County Fair art competition, and she received second place in the student fine art category.
“I am in awe,” AJ beams. “I can’t believe it. I am just so happy. I couldn’t have done it without St. Paul’s PACE.”
At the bottom of her painting, AJ proudly signed her name. She says she didn’t have anything to sign it with except lip liner. The red glitter of her signature boldly catches the light.