When one lifts their face to the stunningly beautiful stained glass windows in churches and chapels, what do you see? Do you see the countless hours it takes to design, construct and install them or the hands that create them?
Christie Garst has researched the history of many of the chapel windows and stained glass installations in Indian River County for an annual Stained Glass Crawl she has organized for the last 3 years. This year, in addition to the window from the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer where she begins her tour and other churches, she also added a stop at Conrad Pickel Studios and Gifford Youth Achievement Center. More than 140 attendees visited all the sites on the tour as they learned the technique of building the windows at the Pickel Studios and then observed many of the creations they installed around town.
GYAC's Chapel window was created by Paul Pickel when the Center was first created 19 years ago and he also donated it to GYAC.
"When Paul told me he was going to donate the window we felt so blessed," said Freddie Woolfork, GYAC Director of Public Relations and Facilities Operations.
Woolfork, who was involved from its first inception, animatedly shared the details in the Chapel window and the Center's history with attendees. He shared the story behind each pane of glass which was carefully chosen to recognize the African American roots of the Gifford community as well as vital facets of the center--family, church, community, recreation, arts and most importantly, education.
Woolfork’s talk was highlighted with amusing anecdotes as well as touching memories of Dan K. Richardson, Dr. Bill Nye and Dr. Ronald Hudson who were instrumental in the vision and building of GYAC. He also touched on a much more serious note when speaking about the need for the Center in one of Gifford's lowest academic times. The Center has supported the Gifford community to reach new current highs in graduation accomplishments up from 23 percent to more than 70 percent this year.
The tour was a huge success and guests have already been contacting Garst to tell her how much they enjoyed it and recognizing GYAC as one of the highlights of the event.