Earlier this year, Wittenberg collaborated with Springfield Promise Neighborhood, a local nonprofit, to improve the community with art, color, and a lot of teamwork.
Founded in 2010, Springfield Promise Neighborhood is devoted to the success of Springfield youth with the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of generational poverty and alleviating poverty in the community. The organization focuses on creating projects and programs that fuel community engagement and get local children, students, and families involved in their own community.
Starting in late 2021, the organization began a project to create colorful painted boards to display in the doors and windows of unsafe and abandoned houses. In doing so, participants in the project can physically see the impact of their art in the community and take pride in their work. Those with a keen eye may have already seen the boards and other artistic projects popping up in the city recently.
After learning about the project, the Susan Hirt Hagen Center for Civic and Urban Engagement reached out to the nonprofit to collaborate. According to Gabrielle Doty ’23, Hagen Center student employee and student coordinator for the project at Wittenberg, "we have a long-standing relationship with Springfield Promise Neighborhood and saw this as a wonderful opportunity to make another connection between the Springfield Promise Neighborhood and the Wittenberg campus, and to further students' engagement with their community."
Through this partnership, the Hagen Center and Springfield Promise Neighborhood, along with the Office of Student Involvement and the Pastor's Office, hosted two events to paint as many boards as possible. Doty was responsible for working directly with the nonprofit to gather the necessary supplies, promote the events, and facilitate them along the way.
The first event was a drop-in decorating event where students were able to stop by and paint. They also ran an "Adopt-a-Board" event where different groups and organizations were able to come pick up a board to paint at their own event. As usual, many Wittenberg students were more than willing to donate their time and artistic talents. Student groups that participated included the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, Cru, Green Club, the Weaver Chapel Association, and the Wittenberg Art League.
“This project was designed with two goals in mind,” Doty said. “We wanted to get our students and campus organizations involved with this beautification project, along with using this as an opportunity to highlight one of our Springfield partners, their mission, and the ways in which students can directly affect their community.”
In total across both events, Wittenberg students painted eight door boards that will be displayed in neighborhoods throughout the Springfield community.
According to Doty, "the best part about this project was getting to see each design created and the color combinations used for all the individual boards. Springfield Promise Neighborhood gave us the theme of stained glass, and based on that the students made some truly beautiful designs that our partner was thrilled to receive. The project helped strengthen the bond Wittenberg has with the Springfield community and gave the students an additional way to give back."
For those out and about in the city, be on the lookout for these boards filling the community with color and making Springfield a beautiful place to be.
-By Isabella M. Fiorito ’23