Employee Awards and Accolades

Employee Spotlight: Sara Harris

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

When Sara Harris began working at what was then Center City Arts in June 2013, she was the first person to assume the newly created position of Creative Wellness Coordinator.

As the effervescent figure that greets visitors entering BLOOM Collaborative, it’s a wonder the job wasn’t created solely for her.

Along with BLOOM director Lee Steadman, Sara oversees the day-to-day operation of BLOOM, a program dedicated to fostering holistic health and well-being through art, nutrition, gardening, yoga and meditation.

For each guest entering the campus on East 26th and Holland streets, Sara's as quick to offer a smile as she is a cup of coffee.

A self-described jack-of-all-trades, Sara has her hand in a number of things at any one time, from teaching yoga to maintaining class schedules to making sure each new guest is met with warmth and hospitality. In addition to playing host, Sara constantly has her finger on the pulse of BLOOM, ensuring things run smoothly for the hundreds of individuals visiting the campus each day.

Although she does not consider herself a typical artist, Sara’s laid-back personality helps stimulate the creative atmosphere that is synonymous with BLOOM.

Q: For many people who visit BLOOM, you’re the smiling face that greets them. What is it about this job that suits your personality?

A: I don’t think of myself as someone who is going out of my way to be the smiling face you see. I look at it more just as me being myself and I think that’s why people relate to me so well, because I’m just being my normal friendly self and people seem to really respond to that.

I do enjoy seeing the impact that my interactions have with people, especially people that have been coming in over a period of time and you can see when they come in the door how, visually, the space impacts them and the feeling of the environment. But then when that’s paired with not only me but other friendly and positive personalities in this building and within BLOOM itself, it’s easy to see the differences it makes in somebody’s day. You find that people are pretty verbal about sharing that. Because usually when somebody first comes in here, it’s the hardest part to have the confidence, but when they do, they’re met with a friendly face and a beautiful space, they say ‘why did I wait so long?’

Q: What is a typical day?

A: Every day is different. We might have the same things on the schedule but you never can tell what’s going to happen depending on how the folks that are coming in the door—how they feel, what they want to talk to you about. Some days everyone wants to talk about what they’ve been doing and by the end of the day it feels like you’ve accomplished nothing on your list, but really it’s not about what’s on that list. Really, it’s you took five minutes to talk to somebody and it could’ve been the highlight of their day.

I’m just being friendly and nice to people and I think for a lot of people that come here, they don’t have that interaction on a regular basis and that’s what this place is all about: giving people an opportunity to be in a friendly and open place and be not only with their peers but the people who work here.

Q: Since you started working here in June 2013 at then-Center City Arts, what are the biggest differences you have seen?

A: When I started, the schedule was a lot smaller and there was a lot fewer people, like on a typical open studio day there were maybe 25 people, now we’re at 50-plus. So it was really easy to see how just having somebody to interact and answer questions really helped propel this program to be even busier. I mean, it’s more than doubled in my first year and a half

Attendance and offerings have grown and we have a great group of teachers and I think folks just recognize the need to add new art programs and diversify it by adding yoga and adding different experiences. Like introducing folks into new experiences that they wouldn't otherwise have an opportunity to participate in and just simple things like the idea of fruit, gratitude, positive, having a beautiful space to be around.

I think in having a friendly face, being warm and letting me people know they are welcome can, I think that kind of had a big effect on putting people at ease and helping them have fun, so if they feel welcome, why wouldn't they come back?

Q: What is your favorite part of the job?

A: I like that every day is different. I don’t like being stuck in a space or not moving around. I like being able to come to a beautiful space, I’m able to move around, things are different every day, that you know that you’re positively impacting the world and community around me. I think I’m very lucky to be able to work in this space and with the people, whether it’s staff or clients.

And I like that I can ride my scooter here in the summer (laughs).

Q: When people ask you what’s done at BLOOM, what do you tell them?

A: My standard answer is that we’re a creative wellness campus, so we offer opportunities to Stairways clients as well as the community at large to get involved with art and yoga to help make their day a little better.

Something that people always then say to me is ‘I’m not an artist—I can’t draw.’ That’s what they immediately think of—‘I draw stick figures’. And I tell them, ‘Hey art isn’t just what you do on a canvas. You can do art in all other areas of your life, whether it be how you dress or how you like to cook, there’s art in everyday living.’ For me that’s what I really like about this job is letting people know, ‘Hey, you really are an artist whether you realize it or not.' There’s something artistic and creative in everybody.

(Photos by Mark Fainstein)


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