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11th Street Family Health Services Celebrates New Neighborhood Mural, A Healing Home

October 24, 2013

On October 16, the 11th Street community welcomed a brand new public artwork into the neighborhood landscape: a mural called A Healing Home, which was conceived and executed during the course of the past year by 11th Street patients under the direction of artist Ben Volta as part of the Mural Arts Program’s Porch Light Program. The Porch Light Program brings together behavioral health service recipients, service providers, community members and artists to address trauma and issues like drug addiction, mental illness and behavioral health challenges. 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University is the third of three sites in underserved Philadelphia communities where this work is taking place, following organizations Sobriety Through Outpatient and the Associacion Puertoriqquenos en Marcha.

The recently installed artwork was dedicated in a celebratory event on the corner of 11th and Parrish Streets where the health center is located. Thanks to the unwavering commitment and passion of lead artist Ben Volta and his team, the beautiful mural was installed last week in front of Spring Garden Elementary School, boasting beautiful colors and powerful written messages on the theme of home scattered throughout the design. After the speaking portion of the day’s program, guests walked down 11th Street to view the mural, which sprawls dramatically across the sidewalk in front of the school.

Among the audience at the dedication on October 16 were members of the Drexel University community, patients and staff from 11th Street Family Health Services, patients and staff from the other two Porch Light Program sites, representatives from Porch Light Program funders, Mural Arts Program staff, and community members from the neighborhood surrounding 11th Street. The stage, festive decorations, and large crowd attracted curious passersby from the neighborhood.

The program began with remarks from Dr. Patty Gerrity, Director of 11th Street Family Health Services, and Jane Golden, Executive director of the Mural Arts Program. Next, Sara Ansell, Porch Light Program Director, highlighted the achievements of artist Ben Volta and the participating patients. Lindsay Edwards, Director of the Creative Arts Therapies Department at 11th Street, shared thoughts on reducing behavioral health stigma and about the importance of seeking help from therapists and other sources.

Some of the day’s most inspiring words, however, came from the behavioral health services recipients themselves, who spent a full year working with Volta on the mural. This event marked a major milestone in the Porch Light Program at 11th Street. Most participants described their involvement as “life-changing,” and several spoke about how much the weekly Porch Light sessions helped their health and overall well-being by giving them a social outing to look forward to. Many of them publically thanked Ben Volta for the encouragement he gave them throughout the year.

The dedication ended when attendees enjoyed cupcakes from a popular local food truck, Buttercream, and took a short walk down the street to see the months of hard work come to fruition in the completed mural.

11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University is proud to have been selected as one of only three sites for the Porch Light Program. We are excited to announce that Porch Light will be continuing at 11th Street next year with the official kickoff of Year 2 in November.