By no means am I a Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali or aspiring Ms. Curtis. That could be because my canvases usually consist of drywall, wood, or cinderblocks. And I need more than a flimsy paint brush (no offense to any artists, I simply lack refined skills). My tools are painters’ tape to stay in the lines, rollers, a variety of large brushes and a wet rag. I think Van Gogh would scoff at painter’s tape, but it’s my best friend.
I got to practice staying inside the lines working with one of the Uncharted authors’ favorite nonprofits, Global Hope. Kelly and I ventured out early Sunday morning, so early I treated to coffee at McDonalds as we got on our way to Tanner Elementary School on the south side of Chicago.
Driving down 94 and exiting off at 75th street going east, showed us the reality of what Tanner Elementary would be like – and fully woke us up. Litter scattered the streets. Businesses were bordered up. Graffiti leapt off the sides of homes and stores. And the houses were dilapidated.
The one beacon of light, literally, in the area was the school. Tanner Elementary not only serves grades kindergarten through eighth, but also offers adult education programs. It is truly a community center endeavoring to advance and empower local residents through education.
What a better way to help a school than by improving the learning environment for its students? As one of the volunteers said, “Whatever we can do to ease the strains due to the environment they live in through a better educational experience is wonderful.”
Our task was to paint three hallways and one or two offices in two days. But, with a bunch of overachievers, we totally kicked butt and went above and beyond. We painted all the hallways, all the doorframes, some of the doors, the main office, and three private offices, scrubbed the floors and washed the walls.
The school sparkled. Light even on the gray raining day came from somewhere outside to gleam off the new bright yellow paint and bouncing off the shine of the tiled walls and immaculate floor. And the best part was this renovation would be a complete surprise to the students.
Through cleaning and painting Tanner Elementary, our actions tell those students and staff that they matter – showing that there are people in this world who will do what is in their power to support them, even if it is one can of paint at a time.