Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Painter

Last Saturday I volunteered to do a service project with my friends Liz and Samantha. The project was to give the Jane Addams Hull House, a community center near Loyola University a much needed make-over. The Jane Addams Hull House Association provides child care, domestic violence counseling and prevention, economic development, family services, job training, literacy training, senior services, foster care, independent living, and housing assistance for 60,000 children, families and community members each year in communities in and around Chicago. This center provides a safe haven for many people here in Chicago and I was thrilled to be able to help make it a warmer and more welcoming place.

As I walked into the center, I could not believe how large it was and how much it lacked color. This is not how a center should look and I was eager to get to work. When my leader asked if anyone would like to paint the mural on the front board of the center, I immediately offered to do it. I wanted to do something I have never done before and painting a mural was one of them. Ironically I am not artistic. Art classes and creative projects have always been a challenge for me because of my lack of talent. Coloring books were my only form of art and I was okay with that. I saw this mural as being one big coloring book, but a coloring book that would be permanent.

The mural I was assigned to paint was of the Jane Addams Hull House logo and a quote by Jane Addams herself. As I began to paint with Liz, I was suddenly overwhelmed with determination to make the mural perfect. Painting a mural I must say is no easy task. After hours of painting between the lines, the mural was finally complete. As I took a moment to admire the masterpiece Liz and I had completed, I found myself suddenly overwhelmed with pride and joy. I could not believe that I had created my first piece of real art.

This permanent piece of art is not only the first thing people see when they enter into the Hull House, but it represents everything the Hull House center stands for. When I first read Jane Addams' quote, I was trying to find meaning behind her words and why that quote was chosen. Children are the future and how we are brought up in the world determines our future. The Jane Addams Hull House helps give children the best chance for success both in school and in life, similar to the mission of my organization, which made the work I had done even more meaningful. If only I could have been there Monday morning to watch the excited children enter into their new home. A home with ROYGBIV painted stairs surrounded by sky-blue walls, and classroom walls painted with murals of Dr. Seuss Books, buildings, and colorful quotes.

After seeing the transformation of the center, I could not help but to feel joy. I now know what it feels like to create a piece of art. Our lives are like a piece of art. We are not only the painters of our own lives. Our relationships and life experiences help paint our masterpiece, and I cannot wait to use my paint brushes again to help a make difference in the lives of others.

“America's future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live.” Jane Addams. 

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