Community members in East Wheeling are collaborating to change their environment and change their lives. On Nov. 2, individuals gathered to paint a mural which will hang on the exterior of the Marian House Drop-In Center located on 18th Street.
Clients from the Marian House Drop-In Center and Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center (CCNC) have worked together to create the design of the mural over the past couple months.
“This project gave clients a chance to have a voice in the community,” said Bianca Benson, associate director of the Marian House Drop-In Center. “They talked about social issues that were important to them and collaborated as a group to make choices about what the message of the mural would be.”
The Marian House Drop-In Center is a facility for adults that have a mental illness, and it is run by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of Greater Wheeling. The CCNC is an outreach center providing social services to those in need, and is a part of Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa).
Lee Evjen is a client of the Marian House, and he was involved in designing as well as painting the mural.
“I love the mural. It’s beautiful,” Evjen said. “It represents many things in life; life is beautiful. The mural is a great marvel.”
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CCWVa officials said the mural is enabling marginalized groups of people to become “Architects of Change,” which is the name of the project. This piece of community art has mobilized clients and neighbors, CCWVa officials said, and it will continue to bring people together by drawing others from around town to view it.
“We’re coming together as a healthy community to paint and celebrate this work of art,” said Benson. “We’re celebrating the hope and joy in this community.”
Elaine McLeskey, president of NAMI of Greater Wheeling, also commented on the collaboration between CCWVa and the Marian House Drop-In Center.
“NAMI Wheeling will be eternally grateful to CCWVa for allowing us to provide a safe haven for mental health consumers. They can come here and be safe, and have socialization, and feel respected. And for that we are truly grateful,” McLeskey said.