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Volunteers help create veterans parklet at Quinlan Arts Center
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Braselton residents Jean Hoopes, left, and Vietnam War Army veteran Ron Hoopes, right, work on mosaic tiles Saturday for a building project to construct a small parklet at Quinlan Visual Arts Center to benefit veterans in Gainesville. - photo by David Barnes

Volunteers filled the workshop at the Quinlan Visual Arts Center on Saturday to add their creative touch in helping put together the “veterans parklet” at the center’s grounds.

Ron Hoopes, a Vietnam veteran who finished his two-year stint of duty in 1970, cut stained glass in various shapes and glued them in a pattern on a slab of stone.

“I’m no artist, by no stretch,” Hoopes said, as he aligned the pieces of glass on a corner of the stone to represent a star on a flag.

Hoopes’ wife, Jean, convinced the vet to accompany her to the free mosaic workshop session to help complete the mosaic stepping stones adorning the parklet.

“This is for veterans, so it’s good for him to be here participating,” Jean Hoopes said.

Afghanistan war veteran Jason Smith brought his daughter, Mallori, to help him create mosaic pavers.

Smith said art has become PTSD therapy for him, and he’d like to introduce the therapy to other veterans battling traumatic stress disorder.

The parklet project has been in the works for about two years, but picked up steam after Quinlan Assistant Director Paula Linder and Mary Hull, Quinlan’s resident artist, secured a $2,700 grant from The Home Depot to help complete it.

A crew of Home Depot employees volunteered their time in the preparation of benches for the parklet.

“What we also do here is our summer art camp for kids, and when they come out here they come out to have lunch,” Linder said. “Now they’ll have a place to sit. It’s almost like a beautification project because it was just dirt.

Linda Tilden, president of the Georgia Art League, joined in the effort as a way of reaching out to veterans.

“What we want to do is invite the entire community and have the veterans be a part of it,” Tilden said. “It’s an open invitation for (veterans) to come, it’s a safe place. It’s not just for veterans, it’s for veterans and their families to be a part of this.”