HappyArt was founded in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, when Bay Area seniors were most vulnerable.
High schooler Aditi Balakrishna set forth to empower the seniors in her community and formed a team of 15 young adults to make cards for seniors — a vehicle for intergenerational connections. What began as a small effort with 100 cards donated to Pleasanton Senior Center, became much larger, and with it, the mission became stronger, and the team, more determined!
Since May of 2020, the HappyArt team has donated over 700+ cards to senior centers across the San Francisco Bay Area and is on track to donate more than 1,000 cards this year. Their mission has not only benefited seniors — they have also spent time thanking healthcare workers, firefighters, and teachers.
The cards they make exemplify happiness, hope, and kindness. With each card, they know someone is definitely smiling on the other end! HappyArt team members are young leaders (high school and middle school) with an understanding of the gravity their work has on geriatric communities.
The cards have gotten great responses: Sunol Creek Memory Care staff noted that “the Seniors loved the cards” and Sunrise Senior Center of Pleasanton mentioning that “the Seniors enjoyed the cards very much!”
Even though this organization started during COVID, it was a priority for them to continue it after the pandemic.
Aditi Balakrishna advocates, “It is always important to give back to your community, and even the smallest contribution can really change a person’s day. Depression rates among seniors have increased over the last decade, and letting them know we are thinking of them can make a huge impact on the quality of their lives. One of our biggest projects to date was partnering with Alisal Elementary school where 60 elementary school students helped make cards for us during Christmas. The cards were incredibly creative and thoughtful. We were able to donate more than 100 cards with the help of the school. Seeing children in our community be a part of this organization is the whole point of HappyArt. We are continuing to partner with other organizations that can help increase our volunteer base and also give them an opportunity to participate in the HappyArt mission.”
They hope to continue to spread their message beyond the borders of their community. HappyArt’s efforts have received recognition from the California State Legislature.
They have streamlined the card-making process to ensure it is accessible to everyone. You can learn more about HappyArt at happy-art.org or contact them on Instagram @officalhappyart. They are looking for people to join their efforts!
Srishti Prabha is the Managing Editor at India Currents and has worked in low-income/affordable housing as an advocate for children, women, and people of color. She is passionate about diversifying spaces, preserving culture, and removing barriers to equity.