GEORGETOWN, Texas — Many of us have picked up hobbies during quarantine, learning a new skill like cooking or arts and crafts.
But there's one woman in Georgetown who turned her new skill into a way to help businesses struggling because of COVID-19. She chose art, which can change lives. Like the lives of those who create it.
"I put in at least at least 14-15 hours a week into painting, whether it's sketching or painting," said Rachel Hancock, a Georgetown woman who picked up watercolors.
She started painting things on Southwestern University's campus, including the Lois Perkins Chapel.
She'll also tell you she's a self-taught painter.
"I'm not trained, I even posted once, like I'm probably doing watercolors all wrong," she joked. "But it makes me happy and it's making other people happy."
This was her COVID-19 hobby. As a social media marketer, she lost many of her clients while they were shut down. That's why she started by painting the things she knew well.
"It started with the shops on the downtown square, and then I had the idea: I would love to have a collection of all the downtown businesses," she said. "I thought, if I want this, other people want this too."
That's how she created her project, Art with Heart. She started selling the prints of her downtown paintings and decided to help out the businesses that she painted.
"I sold them at $10 each, and the profits from each print went back to the business that you bought," said Rachel. "So, if you bought The Exchange, then you would pay $10 for that print and about $9.38 would go back to The Exchange."
"She wanted to help the downtown community during a really rough time," said Laura Mendoza, who is the manager at The Exchange, a resale store downtown.
She sees the benefit, much like many of the owners of other businesses like Karen Soeffker, the owner at All Things Kids.
"What Rachael has done with her art, with heart, is just an example of what Georgetown does," said Karen. "It is amazing and it's beautiful."
In total, she painted more than 60 businesses, all downtown, all with the same goal.
"She has decided to paint on her own time, all these different buildings here," said Cody Hirt, owner of Mesquite Creek Outfitters. "Who does that any more? They find the great in something and it benefits everybody."
"And I was like, 'Woah, this is so awesome,'" said Garrett Hill, at 309 Coffee. "People are still good and people are still wanting to help other people, and we're all going to join up together and make it through."
In total, she raised around $11,500 for the businesses. Some will take the money to help cover the losses from COVID-19. Others will donate theirs to different charities.
Now she's onto her next project: painting the Southwestern Campus.
"The Southwestern Emergency Fund," Rachel explained, "which goes to students who are in financial need during an emergency."
Another chance to give back, and another chance to change lives.
"It's just the best," she said. "I'm so thankful to have this opportunity."
If you would like to see more of Rachel's paintings, you can check them out here.
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