Origami is the art of paper-folding. Its name is derived from the Japanese words ori (“folding”) and kami (“paper”). Traditional origami consists of folding a single sheet of square paper into a sculpture without cutting, gluing, taping, or even marking it.
The YMCA Supportive Housing Campus has adopted this ancient practice. Through origami, resident volunteers come together in fellowship to learn, practice and teach one another, and ultimately create shapes that have become our signature “thank you” for volunteers, donors and our community.
We began this project in 2017 as an opportunity for our residents to volunteer and express creativity in a quiet setting. We learned, through many afternoons of trial and error, how to fold paper cranes. Paper cranes were chosen as our first shape because they have become a symbol of hope and healing during challenging times. This symbol resonates with us as our community is filled with hope, dignity and support for a fragile population seeking a hand up, not a hand out.
In 2018, we chose our next shape – an origami star to represent a starfish from this famous and inspiring story:
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
Folding origami has led us into deeper connection with one another. Several residents have been inspired to create origami in times outside our structured calendar dates; we often receive surprise bags filled with cranes and stars from residents who have been productively folding away!
We mailed paper cranes to 2018 Annual Campaign donors as handmade thanks from the very people their donations support. We are readying to send stars and the starfish story to donors to our 2019 Annual Campaign. What shape will we create next? We will begin our next origami endeavor on February 13th! Stay tuned to see our next project “fold”! (Instead of unfold... get it?)