Amazing Helen Dolas
Kea Systems is proud to be associated with Helen Dolas. The 2014 recipient of the Long Beach Press Telegram’s 2014 Amazing Women’s Award in Arts & Culture, Helen is truly just that – ‘Amazing’. Here is a very brief bio but you can learn more at the Arts and Services site or at theLong Beach Press Telegram site.
Long Beach >> Helen Dolas’ driving mission is “love before learning.”
For more than 30 years, Dolas, 56, and her Long Beach-based nonprofit Arts and Services for Disabled have employed the expression while using the arts as a therapeutic tool to enrich and empower the lives of adults who have cerebral palsy, autism and Down syndrome.
“If you don’t love someone and respect them and treat them with dignity, they won’t learn,” Dolas said. “It’s a way of life.”
When people come to the adult day program, they are greeted with a smile and a hug, Dolas said. “We make them feel like they belong. They feel safe and have a space where they can be themselves,” said Dolas, who received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy and master’s in special education from Cal State Long Beach.
As CEO and founder of Arts and Services for Disabled, which serves more than 2,500 clients, Dolas oversees the Long Beach location and three facilities in the South Bay. Arts used in the program, including music, painting, dance, poetry and literature, encourage self-expression, while helping build mental and motor skills, decision making abilities and social interaction.
Dolas also runs a mobile arts program for homebound adults and a clinic for autistic children and adolescents. During the past two years the group has participated in 21 public performances and 50 art exhibits.
Dolas’ commitment to using the arts as a positive force in people’s lives made her a finalist in the arts and culture category for the Press-Telegram’s Amazing Women award.
“Helen sees people with disabilities as people with abilities,” said Marlyn Denter, who’s known Dolas since the two attended elementary school in Los Alamitos and nominated her for the award. “She founded an organization that, more than 30 years later, is still viable and touching people’s lives, but not just their lives. It’s having an impact on the lives of their families and the community.”