LONGVIEW, Texas — An East Texas artist joined forces with Newgate Mission in Longview to empower people affected by poverty.

On Thurs. Feb. 28, artist Anup Bhandari and the Newgate Mission will hold a release for the new book, “Faces of Newgate.” It will feature portraits by Bhandari and stories written by the men and women who participate a free class called the Healing Art Project.

The book was largely inspired by a video recorded a year ago that garnered nearly 20,000 views. In it, Bhandari presented Longview community member ‘Miss Ruby’ a portrait of herself. According to Hollie Bruce, the executive director at Newgate Mission, Miss Ruby is a Longview staple.

"Every time I see her she greets me with a huge hug,” Bruce said. “She is one of the highlights of many of our days. She’s a huge Lobo fan, too. She went to Dallas when the Lobos were playing. She’s in in every parade there is.”

Bhandari began to paint more portraits of his friends at Newgate, and decided to start a free art class. 

"It is a healing opportunity,” Bhandari said. “They just express their feelings in their painting and it's powerful." 

He holds the class every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. at the Newgate Mission just before lunch. The class not only draws people that are homeless, but those who are low-income and those who simply seek community.

Sheila Hadaway lives in Longview and helps raise her grandchildren. She said the class is a way to de-stress.

"It calms me, I can relax, and enjoy it,” Hadaway said. “I'm not the world’s best artist, but I love it."

She said she found friendship at the class as well. It became so popular, that their art was displayed and sold at local art shows. Part of the proceeds go to class participants and part goes to the Newgate Mission.

"The pride that they feel when one of their images is sold is priceless," Bruce said.

But more importantly, she said the class gives community members an opportunity to be celebrated.

"The purpose is absolutely to humanize people and to say look, we are here to treat these individuals as our brothers and sisters and treat them with love and compassion and dignity and respect, every single day.”