In some of the promotional material for Open Arms Housing there is a hand-drawn picture of an abstract face. If you look one way, the face appears happy. Then you turn it upside down and the face looks sad.
Stacey McCormick, a former resident of the organization’s permanent supportive housing, drew this fascinating picture. In many ways it represents her own life, which ended too soon in August 2016. McCormick was 52.
Despite having trouble moving around and relying on an oxygen tank, McCormick was always upbeat and positive, according to Tecoy Wade, a peer support specialist at Open Arms. “I miss her enthusiasm in participating in activities,” Wade said. “Even if she was not in a good place, she would still show up and push past it.”
It was in these moments that McCormick created some of her most memorable artwork. She especially loved painting and using glitter.
“She was most famous for her wonderful artwork. She was a gifted artist,” said Marilyn Kresky-Wolff, the executive director of Open Arms.
Kresky-Wolff added that McCormick was also well known for her love of animals, which stemmed from an earlier career working with them in the circus. She also loved to sing and read. In fact, Wade said McCormick read all of the three dozen or so books that Open Arms has on its shelves.
McCormick was originally from the Philadelphia area but moved around quite a bit, according to Wade. She was still in contact with some family members. In D.C., McCormick spent time at the Harriet Tubman shelter before coming to Open Arms. Wade and Kresky-Wolff said she immediately fit in and was well-liked.
“She really had a big impact on people,” Wade said. “We still miss her, as she was such a presence.”