News

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February 06, 2013

Speaker Announcement: Roxie McGovern, Helping Children Heal Through Art
Category: 2013 Event, News, Speaker Announcements

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On Christmas Eve 2010, Roxie McGovern’s career took a totally different direction when Frank Etxaniz, her longtime friend and founder of Children’s Healing Arts Project (CHAP), called about an opportunity.

As the Operations Manager at Anthropologie, Roxie saw herself growing with the company’s visual department, but she knew she couldn’t pass up the chance to work at CHAP.

“It was the best Christmas present I have ever gotten!” Roxie says. “I never would have imagined that my life would have taken this change of direction, and now I cannot imagine doing anything else!”

As executive director of CHAP Roxie brings the healing power of art to children in crisis and their families. Often, these families never imagined their lives would take the direction they’ve gone. CHAP’s goal is to ease their displacement with programs that strengthen, encourage and inspire.

“A driving force in my life are the kids and families I work with,” Roxie says. “I get to channel my 5-year-old self every day and have learned from them to love my day-to-day life a little more.”

Growing up with grandparents who had immigrated from Armenia (her grandfather survived the Armenian genocide), Roxie learned to value her roots and never forget where she came from.

Her mother raised her to be a strong, independent woman, and her father taught her she was never too old to try new things––that it was important to take time for herself. Her sisters, she says, remind her daily to have fun and not take herself too seriously.

“My perfect day would be to get up early and walk to Compote for breakfast with my husband, Mike,” Roxie says. “After, we’d head to the studio to work on our collaborative printmaking project all day long. In the evening we’d make dinner together and curl up on the couch with the kitties, Cornelius and Jack, and watch movies late.”

Roxie received her bachelor’s degree in fine art with an emphasis in printmaking from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland. She continues to show her work around the United States.

With their collaborative project, Owl Cat Ink, Roxie and Mike work together to create one-of-a-kind collages with their old print proofs, a project inspired by the kids they work with at CHAP. A portion of all Owl Cat Ink sales are donated to the organization.

“I have learned so much from working with terminally and chronically ill children and disabled kids,” Roxie says. “My perspective on life has changed drastically. The most important message I have gotten from these amazing kids is to really value day-to-day life and find joy in the little things.”

Roxie says to keep an eye out for CHAP in the community. The organization and its art car frequent various charity events throughout the year. For the 2013 TEDxConcordiaUPortland attendees, she has a vision inspired by CHAP.

“If I could harness the velocity of more than 650 people, I would encourage them to really try to be present in their day-to-day lives––to find a little bit of joy each and every day.

“Now, this is not to say that you need to live each day like it’s your last… that is a totally unrealistic goal… but simply be present, pay attention to the people who surround you, enjoy that cup of coffee, the blue sky and that song on the radio you haven’t heard in ages.”

Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson is a Hawthorne-based storyteller, adventure lover and a dress-up queen. She’s one of several storytellers who will be sharing write-ups, interviews, and perspectives on the many extraordinary people from our surrounding community.