On a week where many students are returning to school, representatives from UNO and the City of Omaha gathered at a North Omaha community center to celebrate the work done by 150 high school students over nine weeks this summer.
A new mural, which features colorful plants being fed by a large watering can, overlooks a thriving community garden was unveiled on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at the Sherman Community Center located at 16th Street just off of the Storz Expressway.
The mural was designed by local artist Kristin Pluhacek and brought to life over the summer by the participants of UNO’s SummerWorks Employment Academy, which provides jobs to at-risk youth each summer.
“The mural was designed to express ideas of nurturing and growth within a colorful, lively graphic; it was a perfect fit for the SummerWorks program," Pluhacek said. "I had a great time working with all of the participants in making it come to life."
Pluhacek was joined at the dedication by Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Omaha Parks and Recreation Director Brook Bench and SummerWorks Director Kathe Oleson Lyons.
The mural is the second such project designed by Pluhacek to come to life with the help of the SummerWorks program and the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department. Last year, she teamed with UNO and the City of Omaha to add a historically themed mural to the greenhouse at Hanscom Park in Midtown Omaha.
“We are certainly lucky to have such a big outdoor canvas to display her work,” Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert said. “With the students employed by the SummerWorks program, Kristin is able to use her talents as an artist and a teacher to create something beautiful and lasting.”
Founded in 2011, UNO’s SummerWorks program has employed 700 teens from across the Omaha-Metro area and contributed more than 40,000 hours of community service during that time.
“We look to lay a foundation of how to b successful in the workplace,” Oleson-Lyons said at today’s event. “To do that I also want them to learn that work can be of service and work can be joyful and this kind of project fits just perfectly.”
The project is just part of an expansive renovation project led by the City of Omaha, which includes a new roof; interior and exterior paint; new flooring; and a new reception area.
Since it opened in 1978, the Sherman Community Center serves North Omaha as a place where community members can meet and rent out space for events and special occasions.
In addition to their work at the Sherman Community Center, SummerWorks Omaha provided beautification efforts across the metro area through the replacement of sand at playgrounds, repainting parking lines at area parks, gardening efforts near the UNO campus, and much more.
More information about SummerWorks Omaha and applications for 2016 can be found at www.unomaha.edu/student-life/civic-and-social-responsibility/summerworks.
UNO: 2014 President's Community Service Honor Roll Recipient
Office of Civic and Social Responsibility
City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department
Located in one of America’s best cities to live, work and learn, the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s premier metropolitan university. With more than 15,000 students enrolled in 200-plus programs of study, UNO is recognized nationally for its online education, graduate education, military friendliness and community engagement efforts. Founded in 1908, UNO has served learners of all backgrounds for more than 100 years and is dedicated to another century of excellence both in the classroom and in the community.
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