Small steps can make a big difference. At Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, that phrase came to life in profusion of glorious hues on the morning of Wednesday, June 2, as the shelter for homeless families unveiled a new mural that decorates the front stairs of its Scottsdale offices.
The public artwork was developed in partnership with Scottsdale Leadership’s Project Lead It Forward. Each year, as part of Scottsdale Leadership’s Core Program, teams from the organization implement community service projects. This collaboration helps agencies complete projects that have been on their wish lists, in an efficient way.
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“So why are the stairs important?” asks Ted Taylor, executive director of Family Promise. “When a family crosses the bridge of ‘I can’t take care of my children anymore,’ they make a phone call, the most difficult phone call anybody could ever make — and we invite them in. The first thing they’re going to do is walk up those stairs. We want the children and their parents to see something different, something that shows them that we’re not here to walk in front of them or behind them. We’re here to walk with them, beside them, on their journey back to self-sufficiency.”
The mural, designed by local artist Laura Thurbon and rendered in cheerful shades of orange, purple and blue, showcases silhouettes of children reaching upwards as flourishes of butterflies, music notes and piano keyboards swirl above them. The painting represents happiness and hope. “I wanted children who come here to find their joy, their love, their calmness,” Thurbon says. “The butterflies represent transformation, while the music is the creative part of a child that we need to take care of. I want the kids who see these stairs to know that they’re coming to a place where they are protected and where they will be taken care of.”
Homelessness is a growing problem in Arizona. According to the Department of Economic Security, almost 11,000 people in the state are without a place to live; 37% of those experiencing homelessness are families with children. Family Promise provides emergency shelter and social services for families with children — and even their pets. Social workers in the organization’s Family Day Centers in Scottsdale, Mesa and Glendale assist families during the day, connecting the parents with community resources and helping them find employment and housing. Family Promise also teams with volunteers from more than 50 faith congregations around the Valley to provide shelter at night. The end goal is to help families become self-sufficient and remain in stable housing.