BEAM program promotes healing through the arts
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Across our community, you’ll find unsung heroes giving of their time, talent and treasures to make Northeast Wisconsin a great place to live. WBAY is excited to begin a new series that will give dedicated volunteers and outstanding organizations the extra recognition they deserve. It’s called WBAY Cares, and it will air on the first Tuesday of every month on Action 2 News at 6:00.
In our first WBAY Cares story, Stacy Engebretson shines a spotlight on the BEAM Team and how they’re making a positive difference in the lives of patients facing a difficult diagnosis.
BEAM is an acronym. It stands for Bellin Expressive Arts in Medicine. The volunteer-driven program at Bellin Health aims to improve the physical and emotional well-being of cancer patients and others through the healing power of art and music.
Peggy Gauthier dedicated 50 years of her life to helping others as a registered nurse at Bellin Health. In 2021, as she explains it, she unfortunately moved to the other side of the chart.
“Hearing the cancer diagnosis was traumatic,” said Peggy. “Your mind, when you’re on chemotherapy and going through this, your mind wanders to places where maybe it’s not the most healthy for you.”
Peggy found comfort through the Bellin Expressive Arts in Medicine, or BEAM, program.
“It has been proven that doing any type of creative activity will lower your anxiety and stress. It will bring you a little peace and joy and it’ll get your mind off all your other junk for a while,” said Amy Eliason, BEAM coordinator. “It also lowers their pain. It’s proven, because they’re not focused on their pain while they’re working on a creative project.”
Through BEAM, patients receive free make-and-take craft kits and musicians play calming music inside the health care center. Eliason, who is a cancer survivor herself, also paints beautiful artwork inside the infusion room to soothe patients during chemotherapy treatments.
“I would just watch her and then I’d fall asleep. It was great. Great. I loved it,” Peggy said.
Thirty-two volunteers make up the award-winning BEAM Team.
“I’m very grateful for them. They are all wonderful people coming in and generously donating their time and their talent and their emotion, because you know we sit and chat with a lot of patients,” Eliason explained.
Ann Pillsbury, who beat breast cancer, is one of them.
“I like to do crafty things, so I enjoy putting the kits together.”
Volunteering is her way of paying it forward.
“You know, you feel so bad for some of the patients, but some of them are so happy and so thankful. They’ll say, ‘Thank you for all you do’ and ‘You do so much,’” Pillsbury said. “It’s just very rewarding and it makes you feel good.”
Now disease-free and feeling good, Peggy is giving back as well to pass on the healing power of art and positivity to her fellow cancer warriors.
“You just need some encouragement, and I think this program is awesome for that.”
BEAM also offers wooden sign workshops and walk-in art studio hours for patients and their loved ones to create together. They get local schools and clubs involved with making monthly exhibits as well. Click here to learn more about BEAM.
Do you know someone who you think deserves some extra recognition? Please tell us about them. Email us at email@example.com, and we may just feature that person or organization in our next WBAY Cares report.
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