It was the first thing in the morning, and Michele Michaels was already getting her hands dirty.

“I’m doing a mosaic,” Michaels said. “All it is is cut glass and gluing it and forming a picture.”

Along with her friend Maggie Rodriguez, Michaels is crafting one section of a mural that will eventually hang in the entrance of Liberty ARC’s day program building.

“I’m doing a tree,” Michaels said as she pointed to her design. “This is a butterfly we are doing, the butterfly and these are people, like a family. This is like a family tree thing.”

At the other end of the table, Frank Rivera was midway through sketching two of his favorite superheroes.

“What I’m drawing is Wolverine and Spiderman teaming up,” said Rivera, who had a stack of superhero-themed paintings nearby.

Along with Michaels and the others in the classroom, Rivera is part of the art program at Liberty ARC.

“I’ve just liked to do artwork since I was in kindergarten,” Rivera said.

“I love the staff that helps me do art. I feel grateful, I feel happy and excited,” Michaels said.

The organization provides an array of services to nearly a thousand local individuals living with developmental disabilities. Lifelong artist Amy Devendorf launched the art program shortly after she started working at Liberty 12 years ago.

“I just love it when the day starts and they’re coming over and they sit down and just start in on their artwork,” Devendorf said as she helped Michaels with her portion of the mural.

The hallways of Liberty’s headquarters are lined with works of art done by residents over the years. Operations manager John Glode believes the classes, which continued virtually throughout the pandemic, have had innumerable benefits.

“I think what it has done for a lot of people is give them a sense of achievement and in some cases give them an identity; they are an artist now,” Glode said.

Hoping to expand the program’s impact, Devendorf came up with the idea to launch an online store featuring the artists’ work about a year ago. The site finally went live earlier this fall.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to have an online store with them,” Devendorf said. “Everyone needs to see their artwork and see what they do.”

Through the site, shoppers can customize dozens of items with images created by Liberty’s artists. A popular seller is a sunflower that Michaels helped create.

“If you would like a water bottle, we will put it on there, or if you have a pillowcase, we will put it on there,” Michaels said as she stood in front of the large framed image of the sunflower, which was made with cut up pieces of magazine paper. “Anything you want on it, they will put it on there for you.”

A portion of the sales will help cover the cost of new supplies. Artists will also receive a commission.

For Rivera, Michaels and their peers, seeing a market for their masterpieces is a new point of pride.

“I’m glad I have been challenging myself to make myself happy and proud and to get better,” Rivera said.

“Very excited that I did a very good job, and I’m happy and grateful,” Michaels said.