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Because Angie participated in the Fantasy Camp (and I took notes and pictures), we don’t get to Tacoma until a little after 1 pm. Jamie Redd was here earlier, but had to leave to join the team for their preparations for Monday’s game. There are about 25 people in the parking lot in front of the Jack Roberts appliance store taking a lunch break. In addition to some Storm staffers and volunteers, there are 3 other groups volunteering in support of this Safe Streets project. There are some people from Old Country Buffet (including a Bee mascot), the Marilee Jones Scarbrough campaign (she’s a current member of the Tacoma City Council, running for reelection), and the Connie Ladenburg campaign (also running for a seat on the Tacoma City Council) – everybody gets a plug. Two more important plugs: Jack Roberts Appliances is donating the front of their store for the mural space, and Home Depot donated all the paint.

All of us are here in support of the Safe Streets Campaign. Since 1989, the Safe Streets organization has been working in the Tacoma area through community-based efforts to combat drug trafficking and gang violence. Check out their website for more information on their other community initiatives.

The mural, designed by Heather Schlegal (253-756-7803), depicts a park scene with a mix of people enjoying a sunny day. We find out that the people in the mural are people from the community. Heather was taking pictures of people who were coming into the store and adding them to the mural. One woman later on tells Heather that she got her son’s likeness perfectly, even with the minimal line drawing. Heather is a professional muralist and has been working at it full-time for the last year and a half. She has primarily been doing murals indoors for businesses, hospitals and private residences. Along with everyone else, Heather is donating her time on the project too. To get the mural to the point it is now, she has already been working for the past week getting it drawn in and getting the top started. She tells us that it won’t be completed until sometime in August. We plan to come back and see how it turns out.

Heather puts us to work filling in some skin tones. She gives us some really small brushes, considering the size of the wall. But, even with the small brushes, it still takes some patience to stay in the lines. She instructs us to not paint over the lines as she will need them later when she comes back in a adds in details, shading and other finishing touches. For the most part, she has the volunteers blocking in shapes with solid colors.

For me, it’s very relaxing to paint. It’s been awhile, so I had forgotten how good it felt. Add in being outside in the sun (part of the time anyway), talking about hoops or paint or whatever with the other volunteers, and doing something that is helping others and the whole experience turns out to be pretty fun.

During a little break, I talk to Regan Freuen (from the Storm Community Relations department) about how the Storm pick the charities or community groups they help since they probably get a lot of requests. She says that they try to find projects like this one that are creative and give the volunteers something a little different to do. Also, the Storm try to find projects that are community building in nature. Their plan is to continue doing one of these events a month throughout the year. One of their goals, in addition to helping out, is to give the fans a chance to connect outside of the game. Since this is what is all about, we will be going to these events ourselves and will keep all of you posted when we get any information about future events. I also find out that Regan played basketball at Stanford and was a teammate of Charmin Smith.

We get about as much work done on the mural as Heather has for us to do. We are prepared to go until the advertised 6:00 pm ending time, but since all the big areas are filled in, some of the edges are done and most of the volunteers are pooped, Heather starts to clean up the brushes and return the parking lot to its normal state. Everyone gets a big thanks from Darlene Picon, the Safe Streets representative, and we head on back to Seattle. This was a fun event and we were happy to have joined in.