Volunteers add color to Floreciente neighborhood

Moline
Photo by John Schultz, Quad-City Times

Grab a brush and lend a hand: Volunteers add color to Floreciente neighborhood 

This article originally appeared in the Quad-City Times 
Written by Amanda Hancock

Ask anybody here if a few buckets of paint can make a difference in the Floreciente neighborhood of Moline, and they won’t hesitate.

They’ll look around, paint brushes in hand, at the other volunteers, at the nearly finished mural on the ground, at the kids drawing with chalk nearby, and they’ll ask if you want to join in.

For the next two weekends, you can.

The Boys and Girls Club building in Moline is getting a colorful makeover, sponsored by Global Communities, a worldwide nonprofit with a chapter in Moline that’s known for community building.

Volunteers can help paint a parking lot mural as well as pillars of the building, which previously was a bank.

“It’s something that people will pass by for years and years and smile because it’s here,” Norma Juarez said, while refilling her stash of yellow paint last week. “Something like this can make a place friendlier.”

Public art and beautification projects were a number-one request from Floreciente residents in monthly community meetings, according to Annisa Wanat, program director for Global Communities.

Moline
Photo by John Schultz, Quad-City Times

“You’re trying to do things that instill pride in a neighborhood,” Wanat said. “So we had all these conversations with people who live here, and we heard ‘What about more murals?’”

She took that idea to Sarah Robb, a Davenport artist with a passion for public art, who talked with people in the Floreciente neighborhood to get inspiration for designs.

The resulting mural mixes themes of both Hispanic and Quad-City culture, from faith to family to wildlife and food.

“They’re the things we have in common,” she said. “Anyone walking by or driving by can relate to the images — it’s something pretty to look at, but it’s also threads of a community.”

Robb and Wanat opened the painting process to the public, and people have continued to show up.

“This way, it’s not just one or two people touching it,” Robb said. “When this mural is done, it will truly be made by the sweat and the effort and time of the community.”

That will be true for sisters Georgina and Kassandra Moreno, who walked to the parking lot from their home to lend a hand. Kassandra Moreno, who is 14, said she’ll feel proud after seeing the finished product, but she’s more looking forward to her neighborhood getting a splash of color.

Moline
Photo by John Schultz, Quad-City Times

“Parts of where we live looks worn-down and needs something new,” she said, sprawled out alongside her younger sister. “This will make it brighter everyday.”

“And it represents a lot of things,” Georgina, who is 13, said. “It shows how everyone is different and has different cultures.”

Like these sisters, Brendan McBride, a program assistant with Global Communities, thinks the power of the paint won’t fade.

“The great thing about a parking lot mural is that it’s long-lasting,” he said. “This isn’t going away tomorrow or next year, and it’s a reminder to everyone that passes by.”

Still, it's only one piece of the puzzle in Floreciente, he said. 

"If you keep doing little things, they're going to add up." 

That's how Wanat sees it, too. 

“People have long memories,” she said. “If they grew up here, they remember the bad stuff, but it’s like, that was 20 years ago, and this is an amazing place to live." 

And by the looks of this parking lot, it will keeping getting better. 

"By working together, we're putting this whole picture together," she said.