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Media contact: Pete Kerns, 541-687-5820

 

Youth House Mural Is ‘All About Sisterhood’

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Date: Wednesday, August 22 2018

 

Artist works with teen residents to create vibrant artwork2 women working on a mural

      inside the lobby of St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County’s new youth house for homeless teen girls and the first thing you will see is a sprawling mural depicting two young women sitting shoulder to shoulder on an island surrounded by rippling waters. The girl, their images filled with constellations of stars, are contemplating a mountainous horizon and sunset filled with blazing clouds that merge to form an eagle with upraised wings.
     “This work is all about sisterhood – it’s about looking into the future and being filled with infinite possibilities and it’s about being in safe place and having each other’s back,” said Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith, the artist who conceived and painted the mural earlier this month with inspiration and hands-on help of the teen girls who are the first residents of youth house, which opened four months ago in the former Cascade Presbyterian Church in south Eugene.

two people on stage
Rachel Wolfe-Goldsmith listens as Paul Neville describes the significance of her mural project to St. Vincent de Paul's Youth House for teen girls.

     The mural was funded in part by a $1,600 grant from the Community Arts Grant Program, which is funded by the city of Eugene’s Cultural Services Division and administered by Lane Arts Council. SVDP Executive Director Terry McDonald expressed appreciation for both the grant and the art it helped produce. “This beautiful mural sends a powerful message to the young women who helped with this project,” he said. “It helps provide them with a space that is not only welcoming, safe and beautiful but that reminds them every day that they can achieve their dreams -- and that the community is ready and willing to help them on their journey.” 
Wolfe-Goldsmith grew up in Eugene and has extensive experience working with youth on art projects. Her murals have

“This beautiful mural sends a powerful message to the young women who helped with this project. It helps provide them with a space that is not only welcoming, safe and beautiful but that reminds them every day that they can achieve their dreams."
-- Terry McDonald
SVDP Executive Director

 featured on local buildings and are known for their vibrant representations of a community she knows well. “This was a heartwarming experience, and it was fun to share my passion for art with the girls,” Wolfe-Goldsmith said. “It was also fun to help demystify the creation of a mural for the girls by breaking down for them how it’s done.”
     On any given night in Eugene/Springfield more than 400 homeless and unaccompanied high school students struggle to find a place to sleep. Many teens end up on the streets, where they are vulnerable to violence, drugs and a thriving human-trafficking trade along the I-5 corridor. To address this growing problem, SVDP opened the first Youth House for homeless teens in the former Cascade-Presbyterian Church on Willamette Street. The facility features 14 small-efficiency apartments and includes a resident manager’s unit, large common space, a community kitchen, laundry facilities, offices for casework, a computer lab and study area and more.
     The SVDP Youth House for homeless, unaccompanied teen girls is a collaborative project involving St. Vincent de Paul, Hosea Youth Services, Direction Service, the 15th Night community movement, the Eugene, Bethel and Springfield school districts, the cities of Eugene and Springfield, HUD, Food for Lane County and other agencies. Hosea manages day-to-day operations at the youth house, and Direction provides comprehensive casework services for residents with an emphasis on education and health.
     St. Vincent de Paul plans to begin construction next spring on a second youth house for homeless teen boys. That facility will be located in an as-yet-to-be-determined location in the Eugene-Springfield area. The second youth house project will be funded by a $2-million donation to SVDP by CBT Nuggets, a Eugene-based online IT education company.