Written and Photographed by Doreen Dawkins
Jeremy Hollon, Coordinator
Tell me about the project and the organization.
I am the Coordinator at Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) for a program called Community Connectors, which is a mentoring program for new American middle and high-school students. CRIS is a local non-profit that serves our growing refugee and immigrant population and offers a wide range of services from legal, employment, ESL (English as a Second Language), health and wellness, to youth services.
The mural project is part of the Community Connectors’ social engagement. We have painted six murals so far and anticipate painting and beautifying another five over the course of this year. The murals are a way for different communities to come together, paint, and have a good time. We usually partner with a local volunteer organization or company and are always welcoming new faces to paint and be part of our family!
How can someone volunteer with painting murals and your organization in general?
Anyone interested can always email me (email@example.com), call (614) 273-5618, or go to our website https://www.crisohio.org/ to see volunteer details or connect with our program.
Lauren Best, Artist
Jeremy contracted me to do the design, then help lead the implementation of the mural. We can do anything we want on this wall. The school said, “go for it.” I decided to do a space theme. The principal approved it once we submitted it, and here we are.
The mural process:
We have completed murals for Columbus City Schools, and mostly schools with a high refugee and immigrant population. With most of the murals, the kids have input on what goes up on the wall and they help us paint it. It is all paint by numbers. This is our first adult-only paint. This is only because it is summertime and the kids are on summer break. This is community-based. A lot of people can come out and paint. People who don’t know each other, people from all walks of life. When the kids are here, it is awesome. I think that’s what is great about these murals. It is just not one person putting it up, it’s a whole community coming together to do it.
What if a person wants to volunteer but they are concerned about messing up?
I would go in afterwards to fix it up. People usually do a pretty good job. When there are elementary students, I may need to fix it up. The kids are so much fun, so it’s worth it.
Alfred Yates, Columbus Gives Back, www.columbusgivesback.org
We are a non-profit that helps to engage young professionals in the community and with each other. We have about 35 to 40 different volunteer projects a month and individuals can just sign up and show up. It is easy to do group social volunteering. A great way to meet people. A great way to get into a community or neighborhood that you have never been before, or you are not familiar with, and to learn about an organization you have never volunteered with before. One of our partners that we love is Community Refugee and Immigration Services. We started our first mural project MLK (Martin Luther King) weekend of this year. That was at Wedgwood Middle School. Since that time, we have done a couple different ones. That’s why we are here today.
You said young, so how old is young?
Aaahhhhh. That’s a great question. I would say that most of our volunteers are between 23 and 40. But, there is nothing excluding people older than that. We don’t go below 21. We want this to be an environment where you are there to connect with other adults and young professionals in the eye of the professional.
Anything else you want to add?
Check us out at columbusgivesback.org. You can look into a time that is convenient for you or a project that catches your eye. You are only committing a couple of hours at a time. We love to do things across the city and address all types of issues: hunger, homelessness, education, environmental, disabilities, etc. We have a project for everybody.
Izzy Collins, Creative Babes
This organization is based on human connection. It is for women in the creative fields. We support the creative fields. We bring everyone together for events throughout the year. Our bread and butter are our quarterly gatherings. We have four events a year open to our members and the public. We like to describe them as a cross between a TED (Technology, Education, and Design) talk, a social hour, and performance. Live music, poetry, stuff like that.
Why do you volunteer?
I think it is a cool cause, to beautify the school. I work a 9 to 5 at a desk all day. It’s nice to get outside and be around cool people.
The process in practice:
I love this concept! Multiple organizations coming together to serve the community. Even if painting isn’t your “thing,” paint by numbers takes away that excuse. A couple of hours really makes a difference. But if painting REALLY isn’t your thing, there are many other projects that would welcome you with open arms. Nothing to it but to do it!