YMCA Housing Program Unveils New Welcome Murals

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ArtReach Mural Program Works With Residents At YMCA Youth And Family Services Escondido Housing Program On New Welcome Murals


JUNE 13, 2023

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With generous and complete funding from Lawrence A. Appley Foundation, ArtReach Mural Program artists, Regan Russell and Donald Gould, have transformed the two front walls of the YMCA Youth and Family Services Escondido Housing Program apartment complex.

These apartments house 39 youth residents with fully furnished apartments. It offers a safe and welcoming environment for homeless youth, foster youth and transition-age youth to support them in their transition to independence and self-sufficiency.

All About Resilience and Moving Forward

ArtReach gathered words, ideas, writing, themes, imagery, and actual drawings from volunteer youth residents who live onsite. Some of the questions asked to help gather mural imagery were What does living here mean to you? Or What would you want others to feel as they come to live here for the first time?

Youth residents answered with a variety of responses using their own art and words. Amongst their answers were drawings of plants, expressions of calm, of being on a journey, of meditation. One theme in particular kept emerging and that was the theme of resilience:  “I was thinking of putting in a desert landscape- to show that even though the desert sometimes feels like there is nothing there, we go on living and go on surviving.”

What we see is just that. Resilient and larger-than life desert plants of agave, prickly pear, and aeoniums grow tall from the earth. A topographical map pattern makes up the background and alludes to the many layers, paths, and future destinations of our shared collective and individual journeys.

As another resident wrote, “I was thinking of adding the words, ‘begin again’ to show that this apartment and these organizations can help people with a new start or the next step into adulthood.” Whether it’s starting a journey or re-starting, this space with the incredible services of YMCA Youth and Family Services and the onsite staff are here for the residents every step of the way.

United We Stand…

Not only did youth residents help contribute with the mural design imagery, but they also physically painted the lower portions of the main wall during a Community Paint Day hosted by ArtReach. This was a chance for residents to connect to each other in an engaging and creative way outside of daily life. Working together, painting big, connecting with ArtReach Mural Artists, and hanging out after.

The new murals are right across from a small garden that residents recently just planted themselves. While standing at this small new garden of sprouts, you can see the bursting with life prickly pear cactus on the mural wall. Through calming yet bright colors and through community care the residents have this daily reminder of their own resilience while tending to, nurturing, and planting their own future dreams and aspirations.

The ArtReach Mural Program and Mural Artists are honored to have helped contribute to the transformation of such an important home for current and future residents.

Amanda Sanchez, Associate Executive Director of YMCA Youth & Family Services said, “I am excited that the participants now have something to represent them in their community. Throughout the development process, participants could connect and share what the program means to them. I want to thank everyone who contributed to this project and made an impactful statement. This beautiful vibrant mural depicts having a safe place to heal, grow, and reach your fullest potential.”

Notable Partners:

Lawrence A. Appley Foundation: This project was funded fully by Lawrence A. Appley Foundation. The Lawrence A. Appley Foundation, Inc. (LAAF) Certificate of Incorporation includes the following statement. “The purposes for which the corporation (Foundation) is formed are… …charitable… …scientific, literary, or educational…” We encourage LAAF Board Members located around the country to help identify 501(c)(3) entities by thinking globally and acting locally. We feel strongly about identifying worthwhile 501(c)(3) organizations in San Diego and evaluating them for potential contributions. In our opinion, the following description of how LAAF funds will be used by ArtReach San Diego is an excellent match/fit.

YMCA Youth and Family Services YMCA Youth & Family Services (YFS) is a branch of the YMCA of San Diego County devoted to social services. Our unique programming has been addressing San Diego’s most pressing social issues since 1970 and we continue to expand our services to adapt to our community’s needs.

We are focused on bringing about meaningful and lasting change in our youth and families by ensuring they have a safe place to live; by providing them with a reliable support system; by challenging them to pursue their goals; and by connecting them to resources needed to flourish. YFS now operates a variety of programs throughout San Diego County that combine to serve approximately 15,000 individuals each year.

For more information on ArtReach’s mural program, visit artreachsandiego.org/mural-programs or @artreachsd on social media.

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