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The Daily Gazette: Art From the Heart: Retired GASD Teacher Uses Skills to Aid Others

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

AMSTERDAM — Helping others is always at the top of the to-do list for veteran and retired art teacher William Bouton.

The Fort Johnson resident, who is known as Doc or Dr. Bouton, has been selling his artwork around the Capital Region for the past two decades. He doesn’t pocket the money; instead, he divides the funds between the Amsterdam soup kitchen, Danielle’s House, disabled veterans and those in need at local nursing homes.

“I have the opportunity to both paint and give back during my retired years,” said Bouton, who taught in the Greater Amsterdam School District.

It’s fitting then that the name of his studio is “Art from the Heart.”

Regularly, he fills his pickup truck with donations for Danielle’s House, which is run by Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless. He buys everything from soap to towels and other supplies, whatever the organization puts on its wish list. Bouton can purchase these through the sale of his paintings but this season it’s been tough.

“I’ve been doing it for a number of years and this year I ran into a lot of problems because the people who donate to me can’t because they don’t have a job,” Bouton said.

On top of that, the need for these donations has increased during the pandemic, and for Danielle’s House, is likely to increase during the colder months, as it opens its emergency shelter.

“The past three or four days, all I’ve been doing is going from one business to the next on my own, with this info, trying to convince them [to donate], which I normally wouldn’t have to do,” Bouton said in a recent interview with The Recorder.

Normally, during the winter, he would be painting everything from landscapes to wildlife. His style is realistic and he paints what he’s found people are most likely to buy. Well over 100 of his works are for sale by donation at several churches in Amsterdam, as well as in Schenectady.

However, this winter, he’s spent much of this season seeking donations and trying to stay in touch with several nursing home residents, who he provides additional care for. Bouton said he regularly drops off care packages of books, magazines, seasonal decorations and food to nursing home residents.

“I also keep a running tally of requested items to make these gifts more personal and special. This year I’ve bought several cell phones for my residents and needless to say I have become a good listener for lonely hearts,” Bouton said. “With so many seniors being cut off from loved ones during the crisis, having these little packages are especially meaningful.”

“Right now, the nursing homes, my heart goes out to them,” Bouton said. “It puts you in a whole different world when you’re dealing with those people because they’re trapped.”

Now, perhaps more than ever, Bouton said he’s committed to being there for these residents.

“I take care of them as if they were my own, which puts me in a different world mentally too because I see a much different picture than the average guy walking down the street,” Bouton said.

It’s why he uses his artistic talent solely to support others.

“You can learn the basics, the color harmonies, composition and stuff, but to get that good … it’s like a gift,” Bouton said, “That’s why I use it to give back, to help others.”

Bouton’s paintings are for sale by donation at the following churches: St. Mary’s Catholic Church (156 Main Street, Amsterdam), Our Lady of Mt Carmel (39 St. John Street, Amsterdam), Saint Stanislaus Church (50-52 Cornell Street, Amsterdam), Sacred Heart Church (111 3rd Ave, Tribes Hill) and Saint John the Evangelist (806 Union Street, Schenectady). Donations will be divided up between Danielle’s House, the Amsterdam soup kitchen, and caring for disabled veterans and nursing home residents.

[Originally written by Indiana Nash of The Daily Gazette. To read the original article please click here].

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