Kathleen Murphy, President and CEO of Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters (YBBBS) for over 30 years, knew just who to call for help when it was time to create a mural for their new headquarters in Prescott, AZ . Generous gifts of the community had flowed in to make it possible for YBBBS to house their offices in the brand new Willow Lake area of Prescott.
Kathleen wanted a mural at the entrance to welcome her clients, and offer a statement of the love and caring that happens when children and adults are matched for mentoring and friendship. She called Sallie Cross, a talented watercolor and mural artist from Cottonwood. Sallie had already given 10 years of service to Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters offices both in Prescott and Cottonwood as a Match Advisor; the staff that continuously monitors and assist matched Bigs and Littles throughout the life of their relationship. Sallie considers herself part of the YBBBS Family, and frequently still volunteers at functions and events.
As is the case with creating a mural, though, it is not a one person project. She called her artist friend, Joan Bourque, whose motto is “It Takes a Village to Raise a Mural”. Joan has facilitated several community Mural paintings in Cottonwood, the first one on their Goodwill Building downtown. Joan considers herself part of the YBBBS family, too. She, along with her husband and daughter, have been a Big Sister Family Match for 10 years.
When they realized Kathleen wanted a clay tile mural, one where individual matches could create a tile, they smiled and said, “We need Elizabeth to help on this.” Elizabeth Gerstner is a clay artist in Cottonwood and is the mother of Joan’s little. Are you seeing some coincidences here?
These three artists have worked on many projects together. Their favorites are those that include children. Together they offer teachers in the Verde Valley classroom projects that connect art into their curriculum.
With a mom and a Big as an artist, Joan’s little has little to say about being involved in the creative process, although her flair is for the theatre. Maia often helps out on these projects, too. Maia’s favorite part of being a little now is being an “Auntie”, her version of being a Big Sister to Joan’s new Grandbaby. This family has truly embraced the original mission of what is means to be a BIG.
Yvonne Rogers, the Fund Development Director of YBBBS, couldn’t help but listen and smile as the team was installing the 308 6” x 6” tiles to create a 7’ x 11” mural last weekend in preparation for their Grand Opening on June 30th. Elizabeth and Sallie remembered each match who carefully prepared their tile together, writing their names, and adding little touches of their personalities. Each tile has a story. Joan and her Little, Maia, got to reminisce about their ten years together that started when Maia was just 5 years old.
As they grouted the last tile and stepped back to see the completed mural as one BIG piece of art, they compared it to the gathering of many experiences of life. “It takes a lot of individual days, people, and stories to create a masterpiece.” Joan likes to remind her friends, and just like a mural, we find “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters is grateful for the help of a community filled with with people who are willing to reach out and share their time, talents, and wealth with their neighbors. Please come see the mural and learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters by attending their Open House Sunday June 29th from 1-4 PM. 3208 Lakeside Village Prescott. 928-778-5135.