Friday, October 16, 2009

Art mural at Cardinal Manning Center (shelter) brings volunteers together

Art is an expression of a person's individuality and what he/she feels. How exciting it is when art and creativity can help benefit other lives!

Recently, artist Ricardo Aguilar donated his time to draw a mural depicting the faces of numerous people on the wall of the men's living quarters at Cardinal Manning. The mural, entitled Faces of Hope, represents hope regardless of who you are, where you've been or your current situation.

Several volunteers completed the mural by painting the faces. Though Aguilar was not available for comment, several volunteers expressed why this project attracted their attention.

"The nature of this project is artwork for the people, by the people. It's a nice community project that livens up the room. I think (the clients) will appreciate it greatly," said Brian Whalen, who has volunteered at the shelter for more than six years, and was joined by his two young sons for this project.

Heidi Lahammer and two of her children - Andrew, 5th grade, and Halle, 7th grade - also contributed to the project, which served a two-fold purpose.

"It's helping people who are poor and homeless, and it allows my children to recognize that they are fortunate and that they can give back in a way that is appropriate for their ages."

Mychal Will, a member of ROTC at Loyola Marymount University, noted that the cadets in his squadron are given choices in how to help the community, and he chose the shelter project.

"I enjoy helping other people because it doesn't seem too common a practice these days. It also makes me feel good. In addition it helps relieve stress," he said, laughing. "I'm a college student and I have two part-time jobs as well. So, anytime I have a chance to check out of that and do something else for a minute I'm all over it."

Overseeing the project was Vincentian Service Corps volunteer Connor Johnson, who just began serving a year at Cardinal Manning Center to learn more about social work.

Johnson made numerous calls to art studios and universities during the course of a month to find an artist who would donate his talent and volunteers to paint the mural. Some clients even helped with the painting.

"When I learned that we were going to have some volunteers visit the shelter, I thought it would be a good idea to have an artist create a mural for us. This is a project that not only makes the volunteers smile, but also our clients," he said.

Johnson, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film and Business from DePaul University and is a native of Minneapolis, has enjoyed his short stay at the shelter.

"Being here has been great. When I was trying to find my place for Vincentian Service Corps the (Cardinal Manning Center) surfaced and it seemed like it would be a good spot for me. I'm not only learning about all the social services, but also about L.A., Skid Row and more," he said.

For more information about the Cardinal Manning Center and/or Vincentian Service Corps, call 213-229-9963.

Photos (clockwise from top): Volunteers Heidi Lahammer and Mychel Will paint one side of the wall, while volunteer Brian Whalen and his two sons paint the other side.

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