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Young Professionals beautify homes, Senior Center in Delano

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, June 14, 2014, at 8:15 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, June 15, 2014, at 7:31 a.m.


When the Young Professionals of Wichita got together for their annual Enhance Community Project on Saturday, they not only spruced up some houses in Delano, they tackled a couple of projects in the neighborhood that they knew would have a wider community impact.

They and volunteers from other organizations created a courtyard at the Downtown Senior Center and painted a mural on the side of a hair salon on West Douglas.

Once a year the Young Professionals pick an area of town where they’ll help out some residents whose houses need work. This year about 175 people – about half from the Young Professionals and half from sponsoring businesses and other organizations and friends – worked on six houses within the couple of blocks near the Senior Center at 200 S. Walnut.

The courtyard area had been a wasteland with a few trees and a bunch of irises that no longer bloomed. So a new sidewalk and courtyard were poured, sod was laid, guttering was rerouted, shrubs and perennials were planted, mulch was placed, and a miniature library – a small cabinet of wood with a glass door on a pedestal and “The Help” and “I Spy School Days” on the shelf – was installed.

“We want to make it a nice area that is an exciting place for the people who use that center,” Suzy Finn, director of the Young Professionals, said.

And more and more people do, said DeAnn Most, director of programs for Senior Services. The new courtyard provides a beauty spot for people entering the center from the parking lot.

George Hornbeck, who leads the annual project, said he wanted to work on the closest residential area to downtown, so he picked Delano, including the Senior Center, “where the community could really appreciate it.”

Just north on Douglas, artist Hugo Zelada-Romero led the painting of a mural he had outlined in pewter green exterior house paint on plywood boards. The 8-foot-by-8-foot mural features characters from Delano’s history – including cowboys that Zelada-Romero features bathing in the river, in honor of an old law that didn’t allow them to bathe in the daylight – as well as Wichita icons such as airplanes and sunflowers. The plywood was hung on the side of Hair Graphics in the middle of the block at 910 W. Douglas.

Volunteers worked outside several houses in the heat and wind as their abilities and talents allowed – painting, raking, weeding, building new railings for a front porch.

That last task was done to the delight of Samantha Holmes, a single mother who lives in a house that received the volunteers’ help Saturday.

“The railings were falling down, and I didn’t have a storm door because it had broken,” Holmes said as she watched volunteers buzz around her yard, collecting yard debris from the back, removing an old window air conditioner, putting up storm windows. By the end of the day, a freshly painted white railing with white pickets sparkled around the front porch.

The volunteers enjoyed their efforts as well, said Daniel Drouhard, whose small company of Colab was working together on the project.

“It’s a good team-builder for us,” he said.

At the end of the day, as a sprinkler watered the new green sod at the Senior Center, volunteer Jarrod Gruver ventured into the cool spray, a beer in hand.

“It is a mazing!” Most, director of programs for Senior Services, said over and over as she marveled at the new oasis Gruver and other helpers had made.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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