Seven-year-old Maya Lewandowski with her adopted dog, Lucy.

Seven-year-old Maya Lewandowski with her adopted dog, Lucy. (Lewandowski family photo)

Hollister School second-grader Maya Lewandowski, 7, is donating her art to help the Santa Barbara Humane Society complete its computer network upgrade.

Maya, of Goleta, has always held a special place in her heart for animals and art. But it wasn’t until last December that her family adopted a rescue dog, Lucy, who had been abandoned in Carpinteria. Maya quickly fell in love with the mixed breed.

Shortly after getting her puppy, Maya and her family went to the Santa Barbara Humane Society to have the pup spayed. When Maya saw the computers in the nonprofit’s offices, she said, “Those are older than the ones at my school!”

She learned that the Humane Society was able to offer services at much lower costs (such as the $60 spaying compared with a local vet at $300) by cutting back on expenses such as computers and the like. That day, Maya vowed she would do what she could to help the Humane Society upgrade its system.

“The Humane Society helps a lot of animals,” she said, “and if they get new computers, they can help even more animals faster.”

Maya has been recognized for her art over her short lifetime, having won and placed in many art competitions — local, statewide and national, including the Santa Barbara Fair & Expo, the Santa Barbara Zoo’s Earth Day drawing contest, the California Lemon Festival in Goleta and others.

In 2010 she used her art skills to raise funds for Direct Relief International to help the victims of the Haiti earthquake. She thought she could do the same for the Humane Society, calling her project “Art for Animals.”

Armed with her paints and brushes, Maya created four pieces of animal art and is offering signed, color copies of them to businesses and individuals for donations to the Santa Barbara Humane Society. The pieces are called “Spotted Dog,” “Angry Cat,” “Spotted Bunny” and “Dog and Cat.”

Dog and Cat, one of the four pieces of art by Maya Lewandowski up for sale.

“Dog and Cat,” one of the four pieces of art by Maya Lewandowski up for sale.

Humane Society executive director Peggy Langle said the nonprofit organization had budgeted enough funds for the network upgrading project, but recently there have been unexpected medical expenses for animals waiting to be adopted.

“You may adopt a pet for $60 from us, but we may have invested $2,000 in medical care before the adoption,” she said.

Where has that extra money come from? The computer upgrade fund.

The local grassroots nonprofit All for Animals got wind of Maya’s efforts and is also in line to receive funds from her artwork. After the $7,000 is raised, excess proceeds will be donated to All for Animals, which is dedicated to nurturing a child’s natural empathy and curiosity toward animals by offering humane education presentations in elementary schools and children’s organizations.

Maya has contacted friends and family and sent an email hoping that it will be passed along. She has a video on YouTube and is offering her pieces of art on

Donations have come in from as far as Santa Cruz, San Diego and Arizona. Anyone interested in Maya’s Art for Animals can contact her at

— Leon Lewandowski is the father of 7-year-old artist Maya Lewandowski.