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#girlcrush: Through art she hopes to help veterans, struggling kids

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - She's an advocate for the arts and her passion project is all about giving back to the community, from veterans to kids struggling in school. 

Tara Thomas is the director of the Bemis School of Art but her journey from high school drop out to art school director definitely gave her an appreciation of the power of art.

"I've seen the arts make a difference," said Thomas. 

After she dropped out of high school, she got her GED, graduated from UCCS, and earned a master's degree from Colorado College. 

Given her past, Thomas has a soft spot for the underdogs. 

"We run several programs for kids who either don't do well in school are there kicked out and this is their last chance to stay in high school," said Thomas. 

She loves to watch people find hope and peace, or even themselves, in a canvas. 

"These paintings, the colors you choose, what you put down on your paper, it doesn't lie," explained Thomas. 

The work that Thomas and the school does isn't just for kids, they also work with veterans. 

"I was numb I had no emotion I had no feeling," recalled Isaac Torres. 

Torres served in Iraq where he said he came back as a broken man. He had traumatic brain injuries, PTSD, and busted kneecaps. He was taking 13-14 prescription drugs per day and described feeling "zombied out."

"He paced, he couldn't look anyone in the eye, and he was stuttering," said Thomas. 

Torres took part in the Military Artistic Healing Program hosted by Bemis School of Art. 

"They reached out and they reached out to community of people veterans wanted mourners that come back from deployment they recognized that and they did something about it," recalled Thomas. "I was able to live again."

For Thomas, it's a way for her to give back and to help people who are lost, with the goal of helping them find themselves in a canvas or clay. 

Watch girl crush every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on FOX21 News. 


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